Sean Hines says he’s looking forward to being the biggest Whalers fan on the sidelines — the sideline opposite the coaching area on the field.
Hines, the head coach of the Ballenas Whalers varsity football team, announced his retirement from the job last week, and the news has trickled out. He told The News today that he had hoped to go quietly, but with social media out there and people sad to see him go, it was inevitable that some attention would be paid. The News was tipped off about Hines’ retirement by a parent of a player on the team.
“I’m leaving the game,” Hines said. “It just felt right now. Honestly, I wanted to go quietly into the past.”
He said he’s stepping away after some 13 years with the Ballenas Secondary School football program for personal reasons and is hoping to work full time on the next stage of his life. He said he will be staying in the city.
Hines started coaching local minor football in Parksville in 1998, after moving to the area from Oregon. He came to Nanaimo in 1988 and found his way to Parksville. He started with the Whalers as defensive co-ordinator, under Joe Martino, who started the program. Hines eventually became head coach and led the team to a provincial championship in 2002. Last season, his team lost in the provincial semi-finals to eventual B.C. champ, Mission.
Hines said he is leaving the team in good hands, with coach Jeremy Conn, who has been part of the coaching staff for a few years now.
“He’s the guy,” said Hines. “He is a fantastic person, a great coach and leaving the team in his hands is the least of my concerns.”
Hines told the school administration and Conn of his decision early last week, then informed the entire team on June 7. He said this year’s squad looks very strong, and he tasked them with pushing for another championship this year.
Jennifer Yacoboski, a parent and BSS Whalers support society chair this year, said Hines’ retirement has sparked a lot of reaction of the players and community.
“He has kept kids in school,” she said, “he checked after their grades and got some of them tutors. My own son (Marc) played for him and Sean often would check on him and help guide him.
“He has just been so large for so many people.”
Hines said apart from the 2002 title, his biggest accomplishment has been getting to know his players and their families on and off the field, and helping young men finish high school and graduate.
“Not everybody is wired for university or can go on to another level in football,” he said, “but they all have the ability to focus and get their Grade 12 done.”
Hines admitted it was a tough decision to step away form the game as a coach, but did not rule out a return to the game — until he’s gone on with the next stage of his life.