Gross says he knew it was time to retire

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jackson's former coach is excited about hunting and spending time with his family.

With the news already reported that Jackson football coach Carl Gross submitted his retirement letter to the school board, the coach confirmed his decision Saturday.

Gross said he retired Thursday -- effectively immediately -- from his positions as football coach, track and field assistant coach and science teacher.

He said he hopes to hold a meeting with his team after school Tuesday to talk with his former players about his decision.

He denied the notion that something happened that made him leave so suddenly. He said that he loved his years coaching and teaching at Jackson.

"It was just time," Gross said. "My wife [Christine] retired two years ago and obviously we haven't been able to do anything because football is 24/7. And my retirement guy has basically told me that I've been paying to work the past couple of years and it was just time. We've got a great young coaching staff over there. Jackson football is going to be in great shape, and I knew that.

"I can't say enough about the opportunity that the school gave me and how much I appreciate it, and how happy and relieved I am to be a normal Joe now."

Gross said his decision to retire was not one he made spontaneously, but it was something he considered for a couple of years.

"The biggest thing is that with the number of years I have in the retirement system, my February paycheck is going to be bigger than my January one," Gross said about his decision to leave immediately. "And if I'm still there, it looks like I'm going to be looking over people's shoulders. My wife and I talked about it. And when you cut the ties, you need to cut them. So that's the deal."

Gross was the Indians' head coach for 19 seasons, posting a 137-69 record and winning eight district titles with the team.

In his final year this past fall, Gross led Jackson to a 10-0 regular season, a Class 5 sectional playoff win over McCluer North and a trip to the state semifinal against Waynesville, the team that ended the Indians' perfect run.

Gross said although he loved coaching, he has other hobbies he plans to pursue. He said he always has wanted to hunt elk, which is done in October during the football season. He added that he also loves to hunt for turkey, but the best time to go is during the track season.

"I have two boats, a 4-wheeler and a motorcycle, shotguns and rifles," Gross said. "I love to hunt and fish and do all that."

Gross said he kept telling himself he would retire after a certain group of players graduated, but then he would grow to like the next batch so much that he'd say the same thing. At that rate, he never would have retired, so he finally decided to make the commitment to stepping down.

Gross said he plans to travel with his wife, and he added that he will spend time hunting deer with members of his family.

Gross has many fond memories from his time at the school, and could not name just one as his favorite.

He is glad he is going out on a high note after an 11-1 season.

"1994 and 1995 were huge," Gross said, reflecting on his career. "I guess 1994 when we made it to the Show Me Bowl for the first time, and then '95 when we went back and no one had given us a chance because we graduated so many. And then in '97 when we had the first undefeated team. That was huge, and we were in 5A and made it to the quarterfinals. And then 2001, when we made it to the semis and then this year.

"It is hard to pinpoint with all the great kids. I can't pinpoint one. I have been very, very fortunate, and I know that."

Gross said that he does not know who will succeed him. He believes all his assistant coaches will remain with the program.

"There are several I know that are qualified," he said. "I am not going to mention names. Our administration has been wonderful with Jackson football. They will make a good decision. There is more than one that is qualified. I don't know what they are going to do. They will make a good one."

Although Gross said he plans to stay away from the team while it prepares each week next football season, he will attend games.

"I couldn't have better feelings about Jackson or the program," he said. "The coaches, the players, the parents have been wonderful. The administration is so supportive. ... Anyway, things are going good, and I'm going to be the biggest cheerleader in the stands."

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