SHELBINA, Mo. -- One of the reasons Rob Wilt enjoyed a successful 13-year run as the South Shelby football coach was his ability to get the Cardinals to stay 100-percent committed to the program even through som grueling nights in the Clarence Cannon Conference.
The veteran coach knew he had to be fully committed, too.
Once that waned, he knew it'd be time to step away from coaching. That realization hit this week when Wilt tendered his resignation as football coach. He will remain a teacher and athletic director at South Shelby.
"I tell my boys you're either all-in or you're all-out," Wilt said. "After this year, I took a while to figure if I was all-in. I wasn't coming up with that. I didn't feel it was fair to the boys if I was going to give a half-hearted effort.?"So I thought it was time for me to step back and let someone else give it a go."
Wilt compiled a 98-63 record in 13 seasons, guiding the Cardinals to a Class 1 state runner-up finish in 2011. The Cardinals won five district championships under his watch. They were 4-7 last fall, losing in the district semifinals.
As much as he's loved the success South Shelby has cultivated, it's the intangibles of coaching he will miss most.
"Joking around with the kids, the locker room talk and just being there for them," Wilt said. "Sometimes as a coach, you have to be a dad. Sometimes you have to be the taxi cab. Sometimes you have to be the nurse. Sometimes you have to be the janitor.
"The thing I'm most proud of is being there for the kids and hopefully being a role model they could see in a positive light."
Wilt's ability to be a leader for his team and his school has been constant throughout his tenure.
"You're going to have some wins and you're going to have some losses," Wilt said. "What you can always do, whether you have a good team or a bad team, you can help the boys in the direction they are going and help them grow from boys to young men."
He's provided that direction for his two sons, Drew and Cason. An all-state linebacker who will graduate in May, Cason Wilt is fielding college interest and could be playing somewhere next fall. At that time, Rob Wilt will go from a coach to just being a dad.
"I get to step back and watch," Wilt said. "I got to coach both my boys. With Drew, we always say he had the most touchdown-per-carries ratio in South Shelby history, and it's been fun coaching Cason the last four years. I've really enjoyed all the boys, not only my boys. They are all like sons to me."