MUNSTER — “I didn’t sleep a wink last night.”
Those were some of the words Leroy Marsh, head football coach at Munster High School, used to describe the buildup to making the announcement he would retire from the position Tuesday morning.
“(It’s) kind of bittersweet, but I knew the day would come,” he said. “I guess if you wanted a career, 45 years is a pretty good one.”
Marsh was first hired in 1973 and served as a defensive coordinator under Coach John Friend at Munster. He became head coach in 1980 and served for 38 years in the position.
Coach Marsh was joined by his wife, Jamie, and son, Chris for the announcement at the high school.
"It’s been a wonderful time for our family," Coach Marsh said. "I think she (Jamie) would let me go another 10 years if it was up to her."
"I remember breaking down film with him when I was 8 years old on a Saturday night," Chris said. "I’m really proud of the career he’s had and what he’s meant to the town and program."
Coach Marsh still plans to serve as a health and physical education teacher at the high school. He said he may also volunteer with future Munster football coaching.
"I’d like to still stay active in football," he said. I'm going to be 68 next month. I love teaching kids."
Coach Marsh gathered players to inform them of his decision this morning, noting it was an emotional reaction for them.
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"I told them I wasn’t going to be leaving their life and I would continue to teach here," he said. "The kids were great and I couldn’t be more proud of them. I tell our kids, and I mean this sincerely, I get an indication of what job they’ve done when I see them 10 years down the road and see what kind of people they’ve become. We’ve coached a lot of great players. I don’t remember the great players so much as I remember the great people. It’s just been wonderful watching them and becoming part of their lives."
Football is a family affair for the Marsh family. Jamie Marsh helps with the press box and concessions during the season. Their son, Chris, is a volunteer coach and daughter, Serena Marsh, is head manager. Coach Marsh voiced his appreciation for the relationship the family has had with the administration.
"Not one time has an administrator or AD (athletic director) called me in and say, 'Win something or else.' We’ve had some personal things in our life and they’ve backed us completely."
Coach Marsh finishes with an overall 228-166 record. He earned one regional, five sectional and nine conference championships. He was named Coach of the Year several times. Twenty-eight Munster High School players were selected to the North All-Star team, and 59 were 1st team All-State players, according to a news release from the school.
On the philanthropic level, Coach Marsh started the Mustang Toy Roundup to gather gifts for families during the Christmas season. He also started the Ryan Marsh foundation in honor of his deceased son to help send children to Camp Riley in Indianapolis.
"Coach Marsh has accomplished much during his coaching career, but one of his most amazing achievements is the mentoring of young men and his philanthropic involvement in the community over the years," principal Mike Wells said in the release. "Coach Marsh has mentored hundreds of young men and instilled character and leadership for over three decades."
Coach Marsh stated he can remember notable games throughout the years, but emphasized his relationship with other schools' coaches.
"I really cherish the relationship I had with the opposing coaches as well as some of the opposing players," he said. "I never made this an adversarial relationship with coaches."
When asked if he will be involved in helping decide who will fill the head coach position, Coach Marsh said he was unsure, but offered this bit of advice to whoever takes the wheel: "Don’t change," he said. "We have great kids, great faculty, staff. Work hard, treat kids first-class. Give them the best opportunity to win they can."