Photo credit to duluthnewtribune.com
After six seasons as the coach of the CSS football team, Head Coach Greg Carlson has announced that he is retiring from the position. Carlson arrived to CSS in the spring of 2007 to build the football program here at CSS, and since then has led the team from being a one win team in 2008, to being the dominant force in the UMAC. Upon hearing the announcement of his departure, the Cable decided to sit down with Coach Carlson one-on-one and ask him about his decision.
The Cable: Thanks for sitting down with us Coach Carlson. The first question that we want to ask is pretty simple - why are you retiring now?
Coach Carlson: "Well, all I can really say is that it's just time for me. There is no real check list of things to do before you retire. It is more of a feeling. I feel that this is the perfect time, as I am healthy, I have been successful here at CSS, and I would like to leave on my terms. This is my chance to do just that."
The Cable: When you got here in 2007, you were given the task of building the football program from the ground up? Had you ever done that before, and how did you feel doing about it?
Coach Carlson: "Actually, I have never built a program from scratch prior to coming to CSS. Honestly, at the time the school hired me, I felt that my opportunity to do that had passed me by. However, Scholastica offered me the job, and I graciously accepted it. I am honored to have been the team's first coach. It truly was an honor for me."
The Cable: Let's go back to the very first game in 2008. How did you feel as the game was about to begin?
Coach Carlson: "I was really excited. We had never actually played together prior to that game, not even a scrimmage. That game against UW-Lutheran was special, because I had no idea how well we would do. We actually were on track to win that game, but a bad pass late stopped us short. I was real proud of the team that day, knowing that the only direction to go from there was up."
The Cable: What kind of impact do you think the football program has had on CSS in the last six years?
Coach Carlson: "It has had a really positive impact. Homecoming has become much more attended and has increased in popularity since the coming of football. Football really blends into the start of the school year in the fall, which makes the fall more fun. Also, enthusiasm at the school builds when the team starts winning. Plus, the school has gotten a lot of publicity and media coverage as a result. The program has also given kids who wanted to play college football, but couldn't make it in D-1 a chance to do that and get a great education at the same time."
The Cable: What was your favorite moment or game in the last six years?
Coach Carlson: "The first ever win in 2008 against Trinity Bible College really stands in my mind. The 2010 season is also special to me, as that was the year that we turned the corner so to speak. We were 3-3, and made a vow to win the last four games that season. We did just that, capping it off with a win against Westminster. They were in the top two teams in the UMAC back, so it was a big win that really changed the mindset of the team that afternoon. By beating them, we proved that we were becoming a dominant force in the UMAC, which led us to our undefeated season the following year."
The Cable: What are the goals for the team in the future? What do you see them doing?
Coach Carlson: "Win a playoff game. We have already achieved the goals of winning games, going undefeated, winning a conference title, and getting to the playoffs. Now what we need to do is win in the playoffs. That is pretty much it for right now."
The Cable: How have you implemented the Benedictine Values of the college both on and off the field?
Coach Carlson: "You know, it's funny you bring that up, because it was the Benedictine Values of the institution that drew me here. I worked diligently to draw players that could integrate into the population easily, which meant living out those values and playing according to them. Having players that could integrate into the population also meant getting players that may not have been successful in high school athletically, and even a few that never played football before. On the field, the team played with class and dignity. Off the field, they excelled in academics. The academic performance on the team is amazing. This past season, four players here were named to the 1st Team Academic All-American list, and there are only 24 spots. Now that is impressive!"
The Cable: So what's next for Coach Carlson? Got any plans, and are there any prospects for your position?
Coach Carlson: "Well, I myself have no set plans. I hope to remain coaching football, but on a part-time basis. I might work with local high school teams or with a summer youth football program. I also hope to make it to a few Saints games when I can, but I know that if I can't be there in person, I will be sitting in front of the computer watching them. As far as the future of the position, there are no prospects yet. The school will launch a nationwide search that will go through the end of February, and then they will begin looking through the applicants, and interviewing them. They should find someone within a few months."
The Cable: Well, before we wrap it up, why don't you say a few words from the heart? Let your voice be heard Coach!
Coach Carlson: "I just want to say that I feel extremely blessed to have been selected as the first football coach for CSS. I enjoyed every minute of it, and would do it all over again. I wish I could thank every player who came out each of the last six seasons. I will miss the job itself, but the friendships and time spent with the players is what I will miss the most. In closing, I would like to thank CSS for giving the chance! Go Saints!"
The Cable would like to thank Coach Greg Carlson for sitting down with us for the interview. Furthermore, we thank him for his outstanding service to the school, the team, and the surrounding Duluth community. We wish him the best of luck in the next chapter of his life.