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After nine seasons as Cary High’s head football coach, each of them ending with a trip to the playoffs, Ben Kolstad thought it was time for a change.
A new challenge awaits the coach who was 65-46 for the Imps (37-27 in conference play) and had been the longest-tenured coach in the Tri-9 Conference.
“I’ve been at Cary for 11 years and nine of them as a head coach, and it’s been nothing but unbelievable,” Kolstad said. “I just feel like I need a change. I think Cary needs a change too. I can’t be selfish and stay there. I need a change of scenery and a new opportunity.”
Kolstad posted four seasons with nine or more wins and won a share of the conference championship in 2005. The 2005 season was also the coach’s longest playoff run with Cary, making it to the third round.
“I thought everything through and was looking back on where I was at and where my family was at – I have two young boys at home – and just the state of Cary High School,” Kolstad said. “I don’t have Cary High where I wanted to be at this point but I see a great future there and I wanted to make sure I left on a good note and (that) I left it in a good state. I wanted it to continue to be sucessful and respected, and I think now is a good time to do that.”
In Wake County, only Garner has a longer postseason streak.
Kolstad told his players and coaches about his decision on Thursday, the same day the school formally announced his resignation.
“Ben has led a quality program that had success on the football field, but even more importantly Ben was successful at teaching young boys how to become young men,” said Cary High principal Doug Thilman in a statement.
Kolstad said he found those meetings to be emotionally difficult.
“Cary High has been nothing but great to me,” Kolstad said. “Those kids have given me everything they’ve got.”
Thilman added in his statement that any other school or football program “would be lucky” to have Kolstad.
And maybe another school will have Kolstad soon.
“I’ll be coaching next year, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.