Enterprise High School football coach Mike Rowley is retiring from the gridiron after eight years at the helm. Rowley, who also teaches high school English, Spanish and history, said the move was the right thing.
“It was a tough decision for me, because I love it,” he said. However, Rowley wanted to devote more time to his greatest priority.
“It’s time I spend a little more time with the family,” he said. “It’s the same reason I quit construction. My son just graduated, and I woke up one morning and realized, ‘You know, we just adopted him about two weeks ago it seems like, when it’s been about 18 years,’” Rowley said with a laugh. He’s out on his own now, and I realized we’d better spend some time with the girls ... you blink and they’re gone.”
Rowley attended Montezuma Cortez High School in Cortez, Colo. He attended Dixie College, now Dixie State University, in St. George, Utah, before moving on to Brigham Young University where he majored in English literature. He thought about teaching.
“Then I saw how much teachers made,” he said.
Rowley lived in South America from 1987-1990, and the language skills he picked up eventually allowed him to test out for a minor in Spanish. During those years, he also worked construction, worked as an editor for a computer company and sold cars.
He eventually owned his own construction company and traveled nationally installing marble and granite.
Rowley snagged his master’s in teaching at Eastern Oregon University where he worked after graduation for two years before moving to Enterprise in 2006. He started his coaching career a year later as an assistant coach and was promoted to head coach four years later.
Football coaching wasn’t the only thing on Rowley’s plate. With three children, he found himself coaching both Little League baseball and softball while squeezing in multiple levels of basketball. While he enjoyed those coaching experiences, his heart was always in football.
“I love coaching football,” he said. “I love the camaraderie with the kids. I love coaching at the higher level; it’s great to coach fundamentals, but coaching high school these last few years has been great.”
Rowley’s coaching memories are about his athletes.
“Going to work with them, going to battle with them and life lessons we all learned, coaches included ... it all boils down to the kids.”
Rowley sees a place for both classroom and sports-based learning.
“I think school (classroom) teaches you a lot, but I also think that sports teach you some of those life lessons that you can’t always get elsewhere,” he said. “Like working when you’re hurt or not feeling well or putting yourself aside and working for the team when you’d much rather be getting the glory.”
Rowley said that the biggest challenges he faced as a coach were wide fluctuations in student population.
“You get players with different abilities, and you have to adjust every year for those abilities and desires,” he said. “It’s almost like parenting, you know, there’s no real handbook for that.”
Rowley said the 2016 season marked a turning of the corner for the football team. In spite of major injury setbacks, the offense executed well allowing the team to put more points on the board than previous years.
“The kids had a good time, and I think they learned about football,” he said. “They were way more of a team this year. They wouldn’t put up with much of the individual hotshots kind of thing. There were individuals that stood out, but they did it for the team, and that went a long way. We were a football family this last year for sure.”