It just feels like the right time to go see what else is out there. —Dave Peck
SOUTH JORDAN — As much as Dave Peck loves the minutia of teaching football — from technique to strategy to effort — the game was always just a tool.
A three-sport athlete at Cyprus High, Peck was acutely aware of the power and influence a high school coach wields with the young men who want nothing more than to achieve great things on the field of play.
Which is why, for 31 years, the father of four helped players see how the challenges they faced on a football field would help them succeed in a boardroom. He showed them what can happen when their passion finds focus, when they work hard for their dreams, and when they sacrifice for their teammates.
As he helped the boys who’ve wandered into his gym reach their potential as football players, he also revealed the possibilities of their lives away from sports. By teaching them to compete to the best of their ability, he taught them how to achieve goals, fulfill their own dreams, and weather life’s inevitable storms.
But after 31 years on the sideline of high school games, Peck wondered if it wasn’t time for him to find new challenges for himself. After all, in 10 of his 15 years at Bingham the Miners have finished in the semifinals or better. He led the Miners to five state championships, including this season’s title. The Miners have been ranked nationally multiple times, including this year, and he’s been honored as a coach of the year multiple times by multiple organizations.
“It just feels like the right time to go see what else is out there,” said Peck, who announced his retirement to his team Monday night at their annual awards ceremony. “Right now, the program looks as strong as it’s ever been. What a great time to leave it. We’ve won 27 of our last 28 games, back-to-back state championships. How many people in their lives can get out on a high note like that?”
Peck’s been considering other career paths for a few years. He decided that he’ll move to southern Utah and work as a salesman for Universal Athletics. His new job will take him to high schools, where he hopes not just to sell athletic gear to prep teams, but to share with them what three decades of coaching has taught him.
“I want it to be more than just selling,” he said. “I’ll share with them the things I’ve done, give them things I’ve put together. I’d make myself available to speak for teams, and show up on Friday night and watch their teams play. I want to continue to feel like I’m making a difference.”
Peck said it’s the teaching he will miss most.
“I will miss the actual coaching,” he said. “I still love and have a passion for it.”
Peck said it’s the letters, cards and visits from former players and students that make the long days worthwhile. He talked about a student who took his driver’s education class, which at Bingham is just one quarter, and spent the time to write him a letter.
“She said, ‘You’ve made such a difference in my life,'” he said. “Those are the real rewards for a teacher, and that’s the kind of stuff I’m going to miss.” What he won’t miss are all the “hoops” teachers and coaches now have to jump through just to do their jobs.
“That really kind of wears on you,” he said.
Peck said he may still coach down the road, and he’s definitely leaving himself open to coaching at the collegiate level. He also plans to continue assembling an all-star team that he takes to a seven-on-seven tournament in Las Vegas every year. In six years, the Utah squad has finished no worse than the final four.
And he will coach Bingham in the High School Bowl game on Dec. 27. The Miners will face Booker T. Washington (Miami), the top-ranked team in the country, in a game that will air on ESPNU at 6 p.m. MST.
It’s a pretty good send-off for a man who’s given so much, not just to Bingham High, but to amateur football in the state of Utah. Peck feels he’s leaving the program at a high point and in capable hands as his assistant John Lambourne will take over as head coach. The two spent 21 years working sidelines together, and he said Lambourne is a large part of the program’s success.
In his retirement speech, he offered his players one last bit of wisdom, even as he thanked them for the memorable ride.
“Over the years I have had reporters or other people ask me what my favorite saying is, and I always reply that it is, ‘Help as many people get what they want out of life, and you will eventually get what you want out of life,'” he said. “Well, must have helped at least a few people over the years, because I could not be happier with where I am at in my life and in what my life in the future seems to be.”
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