When Brookside enters the Lorain County League for the football season in the fall it will do so with a new coach.
After four years leading the Cardinals, Paul Ferguson stepped down this week in order to spend more time with his family.
“The No. 1 factor is family. I had my daughter the day before the Wellington game (in 2018),” Ferguson said. “I always tried to preach to the kids family comes first. It takes a lot of time to do the job right, being head football coach is another full-time job. I just decided I need to step away to spend more time with my family.”
Ferguson, whose coaching career at Brookside started as an assistant under Thom Lesiecki in 2014, will retain his teaching position in the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake School District. Ferguson also indicated he would like to remain involved with the football program in a reduced capacity. He hasn’t ruled out returning to a head coaching position in the future.
Ferguson’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child Oct. 18, a day before the Cardinals defeated Wellington 28-21 for their second, and final, win of the season.
“When my wife got pregnant we had discussions about it and we were waiting to see how it would go and how much time it takes to raise a child, which is obviously a lot,” Ferguson said. “It takes just as much time to run a football program. It would be hard for me to balance the two because I’m an all-in kind of guy.”
Athletic director Dick Kerschbaum said he hopes to have a new coach in place by March so he can be in position to guide the team into offseason and summer workouts.
“It wasn’t a surprise, it’s not that he doesn’t want to coach with us. He just has a lot of things going on,” Kerschbaum said. “It’s something we had talked about around Christmastime and I told him to spend some time discussing it with his family and come back with a decision.”
The Cardinals posted an 11-29 record in Ferguson’s four seasons, including 6-4 in 2015, the only year in the 14-year history of the Patriot Athletic Conference that the Cardinals had a winning record in league play.
“Record-wise the last three years we didn’t reach our goals and win as many games as we would have liked,” Ferguson said. “But I think we took the correct steps over the last four years teaching about leadership, teaching how to do the right things, stick together and handle adversity. I love the kids we have here at Brookside.”
Although most schools that had coaching opening already have new staffs in place, including Brookside’s future Lorain County League foe Black River, Kerschbaum doesn’t think the timing of Ferguson’s decision will hurt the team.
“It’s not as difficult as it used to be because there is so much more you can do during the summertime,” said Kerschbaum, who was a head football coach himself for nearly three decades, including stints at Elyria and North Ridgeville. “If a guy gets hired in the middle of March, he’ll have a chance to get to know the kids a little bit and set up those 10 days you can work with the kids during the summer. Back in the day you couldn’t do anything until the first day of practice.
“It’s always hard but I think it’s a little bit better now.”