After a storybook season defined by a 11-0 record and a Capital Area Football Conference title, Riverdale Baptist’s Coach Bob Shields will step down from his position to spend more time with his family.
Shields, the CAFC’s and Prince George’s County coach of the year, said his family faced medical challenges throughout the Crusaders’ 2013 championship run. Those challenges made Shields realize the extent to which the year-round grind of high school football coaching and a full-time job was pulling him from his family, forcing them to reschedule fall celebrations until football was done, requiring near constant attention.
“You can get money back, jobs — you can get a lot of things back,” Shields said. “You can’t get time back. I just need to step away and get connected again.”
Shields didn’t rule out a return to coaching down the line, but said he won't be involved in coaching in the immediate future. Instead, he’s looking forward to being a “soccer dad.” His daughter Alexandrea, was a sophomore defender for the Crusaders’ team this season.
That Shields needs time away isn’t surprising given his reputation as an ultra-dedicated coach willing to go to great lengths to help his players improve on and off the field and aide them in the recruiting process. One parent called Shields “a saint,” and several Crusaders players said earlier this fall he was the reason they chose to attend the school.
Shields began his tenure at Riverdale Baptist as a volunteer assistant to the school’s middle school team in 2003. In 2004, he became the head junior varsity coach, and took over varsity in 2006.
“You don’t realize it, but coaching sort of stops becoming what you do and becomes who you are,” Shields said. “It gets woven into your DNA somehow.”
In his eight seasons as head coach, the Crusaders played to a 42-34 record, though the team also grew in prominence and gained a new facility including a turf field, lights and a practice field.
Shields said it was “difficult” to tell his players of his decision, and it has been “strange” not directing them through off-season workouts, as he’d normally be doing at this time of year. Characteristically, he hasn’t been able to sever the strings that pull him to coaching entirely just yet: he says he’ll help his current seniors finish up their recruiting processes before fully relenting.