Ephrata’s Vieland steps downResigns after four years as head coach

By on November 16, 2011

By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

As first reported on The Ephrata Review Facebook page late last Wednesday afternoon, Ephrata Head Football Coach Jim Vieland announced his resignation from the post he held for four seasons at the school.

Ephrata Athletic Director Tommy Long received the news last Wednesday morning in a letter from Vieland, and the coach announced to the team immediately after school Wednesday that he was stepping down.

"I’m sorry to see Jim leave," Long said by e-mail this week. "He worked really hard on and off the field to help our athletes."

Vieland, who assisted at Hempfield and North Penn high schools prior to getting his first head coaching job at Ephrata, went 5-35 overall in his four years at EHS, including a 1-9 campaign this past season.

Reached this week, Vieland said his decision came down to several factors but most importantly he wanted to commit more time to his family.

"Ultimately it came down to spending more time with my family," he said. "I have four kids ages three to 10 and my wife works part time as well. I also felt that it was time from a win/loss perspective. I gave it my best for four years, and when you are not winning it takes its toll. It was time for someone else to step in and give it a shot."

Under Vieland, Ephrata went 0-10 and 2-8 in his first two seasons, competing in Section Two, before going 2-8 and 1-9 the past two years in Section One. Ephrata’s lone win of the season was a 48-35 victory at Cedar Crest in Week Nine.

While the record certainly wasn’t what he expected after taking over for long-time Coach Ken Grove in 2008, Vieland said he enjoyed his experience as a head coach.

"For me it was a fulfillment of a dream," he said. "I’ve always wanted to be a head coach and I truly cherished every moment working with young men and leading them in hard work and dedication. We did a lot of good things in the classroom and developed character and for that I am proud. The other aspect was that we were highly competitive on the football field as well although the end results were not what we intended."

The Ohio native was asked what accomplishments he was most proud of during his tenure at Ephrata.

"The fact that we were able to develop young men that didn’t quit," he said. "It’s not easy to play football at Ephrata. People can be extremely negative, yet these players gave it their all. I am also proud of the fact that we were able to beat three playoff teams. Another accomplishment was providing opportunities for our players to play at the next level. When I first arrived, we didn’t have anyone playing football collegiately. At the start of this season we had nine playing college football. We should send three to four more at the end of this year as well."

Vieland said he believed the jump up to Section One from Section Two two years ago was a big reason his teams didn’t win as much as they would have liked. Ironically, the Mounts will move back to Section Two for the 2012 campaign under a new head coach.

"(That) was something that we did not anticipate," Vieland said of moving up. "It certainly was not a level playing field when you consider school enrollments, roster sizes, player size and depth. There is such a great disparity in facilities and coaching staff sizes as well. We are a Section Two school. Looking back, we lost a lot of games in the fourth quarter (when) more depth would have certainly helped."

While the Mounts couldn’t right the ship during his four years at the helm, Vieland said he believes Ephrata could potentially turn it around with more community support.

"I’d like to see the community get behind the football program regardless of its record," he said. "Football represents what is good in America, it is about young men working hard in brotherhood trying to accomplish one goal. Unfortunately one team has to lose and that does not mean that those kids are losers. Losing is an act, it does not define a person.

"Our football players put in a tremendous amount of time and for them to face the negativity that they do daily, it’s really undeserved. It also results in a self-fulfilling prophecy. These kids sacrifice and make nothing in return except for a chance to represent their school. They wake at 5:30 a.m. in the off-season to work until they literally puke while all of their peers are still sleeping. They sacrifice weeks off during their summer and turn down great jobs that are not conducive to their workout schedules. The support and community backing needs to come before the winning, not the other way around."

Vieland, who is a teacher in the English Dept. at Ephrata High School, said he is "proud to be an educator in this district," and will continue to do so. As for getting back on the sidelines again, the former three-year starting lineman at Grove City College certainly hasn’t ruled it out.

"It’s been 29 years of football in the fall for me both as a coach and player. It’s who I am and in my blood," he said. "I honestly have no idea what it’s like not to coach but I am going to try my best and use that time to immerse myself into my family. Maybe I’ll pick up an extra section of Advanced Composition and spend my time grading more essays…"

He added that there will be several things he’ll definitely miss, including "the competition of Friday nights and the preparation to do so."

"I will also miss the camaraderie of working so closely with my coaching staff and other coaching staffs," he said. "We truly have some great men in our league who care about kids and put kids first. I will miss working daily with the kids outside of the classroom."

With Vieland’s former post now vacant, Long will begin working on bringing in the next coach. Asked about what the timeline might be for hiring a new coach, Long said, "We only had initial discussions about a timeline and what we will be looking for, but nothing has been finalized at this point." More VIELAND, page B-4

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