Wood River High School head football coach Kevin Stilling, 44, submitted his resignation from that position today, exactly 10 years to the day since he was first named to the job at the Hailey school.
“I want to spend more time with my girls,” said Stilling, father of nine-year-old Tobie Stilling and Camrynn Stilling, who will be seven years old next week.
Stilling, employed by the Blaine County School District for 12 years, will continue in his position as Wood River athletic and activities director, a job he has held jointly with the head football coaching position since Aug. 2016.
He said he told his football players of the decision this morning, after informing the Wood River coaching staff last night. Stilling was hired Nov. 14, 2008 to replace Mike Glenn. It was Stilling’s first head coaching assignment at the time.
The hiring process has started, Stilling said. There is a coach on the current football staff who is interested in the head job and told Stilling he would apply. Stilling said, “With the right applicant, we’d like to move quickly with the hiring.”
In 10 seasons, Stilling (38-52, .423 winning percentage) has become the winningest coach in the 52 seasons of Wood River High School varsity football. Four times, he earned the honor of Great Basin Conference “Coach of the Year.”
Only John Blackman (14 seasons, 1985-91 and 1996-2002) with his 118 games and .305 winning percentage (36-82) coached more than Stilling’s 90 games. Three times, Stilling won the Shay Cup as Wood River’s outstanding coach.
His first win as coach came Sept. 11, 2009 at Wendell, when Wood River girls’ basketball All-Star Haylee Thompson kicked the decisive extra point in a 14-13 victory. Stilling’s last win as coach was 27-7 at Buhl on Sept. 21 of this year.
Stilling’s high-water mark came in a three-year, 30-game stretch from 2014-16 when his Wood River teams went 20-10 (12-3 league) and outscored opponents by a 30-21 margin. His 8-2 squad of 2016 won the school’s first and only Great Basin Conference league championship.
That Wolverine team scored the most points, 325, in school football history. It reached the highest total of Wood River single-season football wins since 1975.
Stilling played high school football as wide receiver and defensive back for Marian Catholic High School in Woodstock, Ill.
Graduating from Illinois State in 1997 in physical education, Stilling took his first football coaching job at Marian Central from 1997-99. He was varsity assistant and head JV coach, helping with the offense, defense and special teams.
He earned his Masters degree in Sports Administration from the University of Northern Colorado.
Stilling's other football coaching assignments were at Lake Zurich (Ill.) High School as varsity defensive coordinator from 2000-01; at Cherokee Trail High in Aurora, Colo. as assistant varsity coach in 2004; and at McHenry (Ill.) High School as varsity assistant/defensive coordinator from 2006-07.
His administrative background included a stint as athletic director at Marian Central High in 2005-06.
Stilling and Mendy Benson met in Colorado, moved to Illinois and were married July 6, 2008 in Alaska.
The couple relocated to the Wood River Valley where both secured coaching and teaching positions at Wood River High School.
Former University of Oregon women’s basketball captain Benson, an ESL and Spanish teacher at the high school, became Wood River’s girls’ varsity basketball coach for the 2008-09 season.
In her third year as head basketball coach, Benson took the Wolverine girls led by Kaitana Martinez and Haylee Thompson to the State 4A tournament championship game, the State Sportsmanship Trophy and a 21-3 campaign.
Her husband Stilling was an assistant coach for that team, in addition to his physical education teaching job and football duties.
When Benson had to curtail her head coaching duties due to pregnancy with Martinez and Thompson wrapping up their careers as seniors in 2012, Stilling took over as head coach. He led the Wolverines to their second straight Great Basin Conference league title and third place at the state tournament.
For his fill-in efforts in 2012, Stilling was named Great Basin Conference “Coach of the Year” for girls’ basketball. He had coached varsity sports seven straight months.
In the fall of 2008, Stilling worked as Wood River assistant football coach for head coach Mike Glenn.
Announcing his resignation today, Stilling said, “I want to thank Mike Glenn for trusting me and recommending me to John Blackman 10 years ago.”
Stilling added, “I really think I am done coaching for now and not forever. Coaching here at Wood River and coaching in general has been such a huge part of my life.
“My building administration has been incredibly supportive and understanding the last three years I’ve had the AD role along with coaching football. And the community has been awesome.”
“Next fall is going to be different—the first time since 1997 I won’t be coaching football. Mendy might force me back into coaching since those three fall months we haven't spent much time together the 13 years we've been together.”
Stilling said the 2018 “Great Basin 10” conference football team will be announced in the first week of December. Wood River players will be honored on that All-Star squad.