The more Tim Leonard thought about it, the more 30 years of coaching high school girls track and field seemed the ideal stopping point.
Leonard, Franklin’s coach since 1988, has made it known this season will be his last.
“It just kind of came to me at the beginning of the track season. I thought 30 years was a good, round number,” said Leonard, 59, a 1976 Franklin graduate who as a Grizzly Cubs athlete played four seasons of both basketball and baseball.
“I still enjoy it, but as with anything, the older you get the less energy you have,” he said.
A 1980 graduate of Franklin College, Leonard’s coaching résumé includes a lengthy stint as one of the Grizzly Cubs’ assistant football coaches (1983-2008). He coached defensive backs for a wide range of head coaches, including Roger Dodson, Dave Coudret and Mike McClure.
Also the Franklin Community High School freshman boys basketball coach early in his tenure, Leonard served five seasons (2010-14) as defensive coordinator under former Edinburgh football coach Bill Unsworth.
Leonard is retiring from teaching geography and world history at Franklin Community High School at the conclusion of this school year.
“I told (athletics director John Regas) two years ago that when I retire from teaching, I’ll be retiring from coaching,” Leonard said. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a good run.”
Among the many track and field highlights were Erica Long’s runner-up finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the 1995 IHSAA Girls Track and Field State Finals at IUPUI. Led by Long, that Grizzly Cubs squad placed ninth in the final team standings.
Mike Hall, who became the Franklin boys track coach in 1986 and is still going strong in season No. 32, appreciates the calm demeanor Leonard has always demonstrated with the athletes he’s trying to make better.
“Coach Leonard is just constant in his approach with everybody. With the kids, with officials and with other coaches,” Hall said. “That consistency, I think, has led to success and really some good times for the girls program.”
Leonard claims his coaching style — and decibel level — no doubt differed coaching defensive players on the football field compared to girls track.
He’s proud of the girls he’s coached and what they’ve been able to accomplish.
“We are normally the largest sport in the school in terms of numbers, and we’ve kind of taken pride in that,” Leonard said. “I’ve tried to treat the kids right and be fair. I’m not really a yeller, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t occasions when you have to have a stern talking to someone.
“We try to making it an enjoyable atmosphere for the success and have some success.”
Name: Tim Leonard
Family: Wife, Denise; daughter, Sarah Spillman, 30; son, Kevin, 27; two grandchildren
High school: Franklin (1976)
College: Franklin College (1980)