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Tim Nelson out as football coach at Marquette
[January 17, 2013]

Tim Nelson out as football coach at Marquette

ALTON, Jan 17, 2013 (The Telegraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Tim Nelson, who guided the Marquette Catholic high school football program the past five seasons, will not be returning for a sixth season as head coach.

Nelson learned Wednesday afternoon in a phone conversation with MCHS athletic director Sara Ulrich that he will not be retained as coach. The main reason given is that Nelson is not a teacher in the Marquette building and that the school hopes to gradually move toward having the head coach of each school sport be an in-house teacher.

Nelson works full-time as an implementation specialist at Thomas Reuters in Creve Coeur, Mo. He lives in Bethalto.

"We want our coaches to be teachers at Marquette too, if it's at all possible," Ulrich said. "It just happens that football is the first sport that we have teachers on staff qualified to coach." Ulrich indicated that there are two Marquette teachers who have worked as assistant coaches and are qualified to serve as head football coach. She would not release their names. She said that while there are two in-school candidates for the post, the school will open the position and accept applications.

Currently no head coaches of any sport at Marquette work as in-school teachers.

In 2012, Nelson guided the Explorers to a 10-2 record, the Prairie State Conference championship and to the quarterfinal round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs in 2012. In five seasons as head coach, Marquette's record was 33-19.

"I set out five years ago to change the direction of the football program at Marquette," Nelson said. "I'm passionate about it, but I'm not a guy to really say anything negative. Marquette gave me an opportunity to live my dream of being a head football coach.

"When I took the job I said I would work day and night and that I wanted to be here for as long as they'd have me or until I was kicked out.

"Well, today, I got kicked out." News of the decision first leaked when Nelson announced it in a late-afternoon Facebook posting. He later said he learned of his dismissal via a phone call from Ulrich about 2 p.m.

Ulrich said it would be beneficial to have the head football coach working in the building during the school day.

"It will help," she said. "Equipment distribution and and collection will be much easier and being able to be at practice as well.

"I don't mean to say that Tim didn't put in the hours needed to be a head coach, but because of his job schedule, he wasn't able to be at practices until 4:30. School gets out at 3, so assistant coaches had to start and run practices for an hour-and-a-half." Nelson said his work schedule had little to no effect on practices.

"It's never been a problem," Nelson said. "There are other sports that have to do the same thing, hold practices here and there at all different hours.

"I have never missed a practice in six years." Nelson served as an assistant coach for one season prior to becoming head coach.

Ulrich mentioned that a reason for moving toward teacher/coaches is to make Marquette more attractive to potential teachers.

"We know that a lot of teachers look at us as a stepping stone," Ulrich said. "This is a way of providing more incentive for our teachers.

"We have several new teachers who have taken assistant coaching positions," she said. "That will give them experience as coaches and hopefully someday, they may be ready to become head coaches." Nelson said that sends a scary message to the other head coaches at Marquette.

"I guess it means if they find someone in the building, your job's on the line," Nelson said.

Ulrich said Nelson's performance as coach was not an issue.

"When it comes to X's and O's, Tim knows what he's doing," she said.

Nelson said he was not sure yet if he would pursue other coaching positions.

"I'm going to sit back and take a breath," Nelson said. "I haven't done anything but live and breathe football. I've missed a lot the last five years.

"This goes against what I've always told the kids -- to work hard and do the right thing and they would be rewarded.

"I may not be their head coach anymore, but I'll always be there for them." ___ (c)2013 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) Visit The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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