Michael Whitehead released a statement to The Sentinel on Sunday afternoon, two days after Cumberland Valley officially posted an opening for the football team's head coaching job.
In it, Whitehead thanked the team's alumni, midget program, booster club, friends, family and teachers. He also expressed a desire to continue coaching.
"It has been an honor to coach football at Cumberland Valley since 1996. I can be proud of my record and accomplishments as a head and assistant coach," Whitehead's statement began. "As the school district has chosen to open up the head football job and go in a different direction, I can look myself in the mirror and say that I did things the right way."
Whitehead said he was most proud of three things: the relationships he built with players and coaches, "watching young men develop as leaders" and the team's on-field success.
"As this chapter of my life closes, I know I still want to coach and develop young men both on and off the field and I can look back fondly at these relationships and friendships that I have developed and be proud of my accomplishments as a head and assistant coach," he said.
CV posted a job opening Friday evening for the head coach position, ending Whitehead's seven-year tenure in charge of the Eagles. The lifelong Eagle went 59-29 since 2013, led the team to three District 3 championship games and won one. He replaced Tim Rimpfel in 2013.
Whitehead played for and coached with two of Cumberland Valley's legendary coaches. He graduated in 1988 after playing for Harry Chapman, then joined Rimpfel's coaching staff in the '90s a few years after graduating from Washington and Jefferson College, where he played collegiate football. He was the head baseball coach for more than a decade and serves at the high school as a math teacher.
After three District 3 championship trips in five years, the Eagles went through a rebuilding year in 2018 and battled a raft of injuries this season, going 8-13 over the past two years. They made the District 3 Class 6A playoffs this season and nearly upset Manheim Township in the first round.
Cumberland Valley, in a statement Friday, did not provide a reason for their decision to move on from just the third football coach the program has known since 1971, simply thanking Whitehead and saying the administration wished to take "the program in a different direction."
The job post will remain open through Nov. 22, at which point Cumberland Valley is expected to begin interviewing potential candidates.
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Whitehead's full statement is below:
"It has been an honor to coach football at Cumberland Valley since 1996. I can be proud of my record and accomplishments as a head and assistant coach. I have never done anything to embarrass myself, my family, the football program or the school district and always carried myself in a professional manner both on and off the field and in the community where I have lived for over 40 years. As the school district has chosen to open up the head football job and go in a different direction, I can look myself in the mirror and say that I did things the right way. The foundation of my program has been based on the way I was coached as a player and influenced greatly by the head coaches and assistant coaches that I have worked with in my career. It takes a lot of people to make a program successful and the success CV Football has had for so many years is because of this group effort. Many outsiders would not understand these dynamics unless you have grown up an EAGLE your entire life. So, I would like to thank all the CV Football Alumni, the CV Midget Football Association, CV Football Booster Club, my fellow teachers and all my friends for their help and support.
"There are three things that are special and rewarding with coaching. First, the relationships and friendships developed between the coaches and players. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be coached by and with some excellent coaches. Playing for Harry Chapman in high school and John Luckhardt in college allowed me to see how these men ran their successful programs. Four Chapman gave me my first coaching job at Bishop McDevitt and the responsibilities he gave me that started me on my path. My years at CV under Tim Rimpfel probably influenced me more than any other experience. The mentoring and friendship from him, Gary Quigley and Ron Audo have been very special. I would also like to thank the other assistant coaches that I have worked with and those who worked under me for all their loyal support and continued friendship over the years. My assistants always gave it their all each week to prepare the team and give them a chance to win the game. I would also like to thank the PA State Football Coaches Association for the opportunity they have given me to serve as a district director, president and to coach in the Big 33 game representing Cumberland Valley.
"The second is watching young men develop on and off the field from their freshmen to senior year. It is rewarding to watch players develop as leaders and to watch how a team develops into a family. To those numerous players that I have had the privilege to coach, I would like to thank you for being proud to play football for the Cumberland Valley Eagles, for playing with toughness and discipline, giving 100% at all times and for playing up to your ability.
"Thirdly, would be sharing on field success with the team. I have had the opportunity as both a head and assistant coach to be involved in over 50 district and state playoff games, 13 district championship game appearances, win 8 district championships and a State Championship. To share these moments with coaches and players is what we strive for and remember in this profession. There have been so many memorable games but I will never forget my State Championship in 1995, our 7 OT district championship win in 2015 and the opportunity to coach in Beaver Stadium.
"Finally, I would like to thank my family, being the wife and kids of a football coach is not easy, I am sure you could imagine what they have heard in the stands and hallways about their husband and dad. I appreciate my wife and kid’s unconditional support, win or lose, and their love and support they provided to me through the years.
"As this chapter of my life closes, I know I still want to coach and develop young men both on and off the field and I can look back fondly at these relationships and friendships that I have developed and be proud of my accomplishments as a head and assistant coach."
Cumberland Valley HS