Tuesday marked the final Central California Conference center meet of the season, but it also marked the end of two long and dedicated coaching careers. As track athletes from Turlock and Pitman High limbered up and prepared to compete against each other and the rest of the league, Bulldogs head coach Mike Brown and assistant coach Dee Gilmore were helping run the show at Joe Debely Stadium for the last time.
“Head coach is a lot of work. None of us do it for the money; it’s a lot of time and effort. I’m at the point now where I’ll let some young guy take over,” Brown said with a laugh. “It was a tough decision. I love coaching and I love being out here with the kids, but my son’s playing baseball and I really want to watch him play.”
Brown was slated to retire last season but when Turlock was unable to find a replacement he returned for his 22nd year at the helm. Though he had to push back plans to camp, watch baseball, and spend time with his family for another year, there was still enjoyment to be had with the Bulldogs on the track.
“I’ve enjoyed it. This year’s been a great bunch of kids,” Brown said. “When I think back on my track days I’ll think about the quality of the athletes, all the coaches and kids. This is the only sport where athletes can socialize with kids from other schools, too, and that’s one thing about track and field that I love.”
For Gilmore, the road to retirement has been a bit longer. It’s been 34 years since she joined Turlock’s track team as the hurdles and sprints coach and as it stands she is one of the longest serving Bulldog coaches in school history. Like Brown, her departure from coaching is rooted in a desire to spend time with family, particularly her soon-to-be born grandson.
“I’m excited to spend some time with him when he comes into this world,” Gilmore said. “I just feel like it’s time to step away from track. It’s been fun but it’s time for me to have a little more time for myself.”
Gilmore was also contemplating a retirement from coaching prior to this season but she stuck around to watch hurdlers Mallory Patino and Logan Connor finish their senior years.
“I really wanted to see them through their four years,” Gilmore said. “They’re tremendous athletes and I thought it would be a perfect time to step out with their graduation.”
Brown and Gilmore will continue their careers as teachers and will undoubtedly remember their time as coaches forever.
“The kids; they are what makes coaching worthwhile,” Gilmore said. “It’s rewarding to see athletes I used to coach years later and know you had an effect on their lives.”
“We’ve won quite a few league championships, but for me it’s about the kids coming out of here and being better people for being in our program,” Brown said. “Now I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”