MDI’s Shields steps down after 15 years as head football coach

MDI’s Shields steps down after 15 years as head football coach

September 20, 2020 mmvxljhp 0

first_imgBAR HARBOR — Mark Shields’ tenure as head coach of the Mount Desert Island football team has seen the Trojans reach unprecedented heights. Two days into the new year, the program must begin its search for a new leader.Shields officially resigned as MDI head coach in a team meeting Tuesday morning, the school announced in a press release. The announcement marked the end of his 15-year tenure at the helm.“It’s tough, but I felt it was the best time to move on,” Shields told The American. “I’ve made a lot of memories here and have loved every bit of the time I’ve spent with the players, coaches and parents who have made this program so special.”Shields, 44, came to MDI in 1996 after graduating from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. He accepted a job as a physical education teacher and soon joined the football team as an assistant coach under George “Toog” McKay.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textAfter McKay’s final season in 2002, Shields took control of the program. The first few years weren’t easy, but Shields quickly morphed the Trojans into a successful program as the team made the playoffs every year from 2006-17.“It’s hard to be a high-level coach for so long because it’s not just something you do in August for a few months,” Athletic Director Bunky Dow said. “It’s a year-round job, and Mark gave so much to his players and their communities by doing it for so many years. He’s the epitome of what a successful football coach is.”Shields originally told Dow and his assistant coaches of his decision Monday evening. The school waited to hold a meeting until the students returned from winter break the following day so his players knew of his resignation before word spread further.The meeting, Shields said, was an emotional one. Although he was confident he was making the right decision, that didn’t make doing it in front of his team any easier.“It was mostly me crying,” he said. “The people here mean a lot to me, and the relationships I’ve built here will last me forever.”MDI enjoyed success throughout Shields’ time as coach, but his most recent years were particularly special. The Trojans finished 7-3 or better in four of the past five seasons and went 26-8 from 2015-17.As a result of his success, Shields was named Big 11 Coach of the Year in 2013, 2015 and 2017. He was also named Maine Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2016 after MDI reached the state championship game for the first time in program history.Shields, Dow said, had been pondering the decision to step away from coaching for “at least a couple years.” Instead of doing so at the first opportunity, he stuck around to see the current senior class finish off the 2017 season.“I knew that group of players was going to be really special,” Shields said. “They had strong leadership qualities right from the start. It was a good group to go out on.”Shields cited family reasons as the primary reason for his departure. He has three children, 19-year-old Madalyn, 17-year-old Delaney and 12-year-old Jacob, and after spending half of his life coaching at MDI, he felt it was time to make a change.“I love coaching, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been out of it,” Shields said. “It’s going to be nice to just be a dad.”Dow said he hopes to name Shields’ replacement by March 1. Whoever that might be, Shields has a message he wants the next coaching staff to take to heart.“The wins and losses and points you score matter, but what matters most is that the people who come in to your program are better because of it,” Shields said. “Doing that is going to make you successful more than anything else.” Mike MandellMike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected] Latest Posts Bio MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020center_img Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020last_img

 

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