VARSITY

Time for a change: Steckel resigns at Northampton

After five seasons, young coach says he and K-Kids need a change

Bob Steckel resigned as Northampton's head football coach on Monday, but said it had nothing to do with a 3-9 record in the just-completed 2011 season, a loss to Catasauqua on Thanksgiving morning or some kind of a parent problem.

"Quite frankly, our parent problems were minimal," Steckel said.

The reason he has resigned after five seasons is simply: "I feel it's the best decision for the program right now."

The 34-year-old Steckel went 26-32 in his five-year run, with the high point clearly being a 10-3 mark in 2008 when the Konkrete Kids won an Eastern Conference title.

"I have thought about this for a while," he said. "I felt like I was going to move on eventually and explore some other opportunities, coaching or otherwise, but I also felt that maybe our kids could use a change as well. By resigning now, it gives the school an opportunity to get a new coach and get things going."

Steckel, who will remain a social studies teacher at the school, said he recently received his principal's certificate and may be exploring administrative openings.

As for his time at Northampton, Steckel said: "We had a lot of success back in '08. But as far as wins and losses recently, it hasn't been as fruitful as we hoped, but I've never been one to believe wins and losses is how you should measure a high school football program.

"No matter what, there are great people at Northampton. Our kids are top-notch. Whether we were 3-9 like this year or 10-3 like in 2008, every day was a great day because our kids are awesome. They were a pleasure to teach during the school day and they're a pleasure to coach on the practice field."

Athletic Director Mike Schneider, who is retiring at the end of the school year, said he is sad to see Steckel go.

"Bobby is good for kids," Schneider said. "He taught kids the right things. All people see is the win-loss record in the paper, and that's how you're judged. People don't see the things coaches do for kids away from the field to help them become better people, and Bobby did those things for our kids."

Steckel, a Parkland High and Susquehanna University grad, believes Northampton can have a strong program.

"Anything is possible here because of the good people involved," he said. "Obviously, as a competitor, I am disappointed we didn't win more. I wish for our kids' sake they could have experienced more success on the field in the past couple of years.

"But I don't regret anything that we did as a coaching staff. I don't think we did anything wrong. We have had kids go on to play college football and a lot of kids have come back to see us who have had success. Relationships that you make are the best part of coaching."

Steckel said he is not done as a coach.

"I'm going to catch on somewhere," Steckel said. "I'm going to take a break here for a year or two and then see what's out there."

Schneider said that the school board has to accept Steckel's resignation, which will likely occur at the January session.

At that point, the position would be opened and the school could start accepting applications, although Schneider admitted: "Knowing how this works, there will probably be resumes on my desk when I get into the office on Tuesday morning."

OOPS DEPARTMENT

In a column in Monday's newspaper, we had an incorrect name when talking about the Philadelphia Inquirer's Academic All-Area Field Hockey Team.

The La Salle junior and Northampton High graduate who made the honored team was Janel Paukovits.

MORE HONORS FOR SPADOLA

Lehigh University junior receiver Ryan Spadola picked up his third first-team All-America selection of the postseason as he was one of three Mountain Hawks named to the Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS All-America teams, announced on Monday. Spadola was joined on the All-America team by senior quarterback Chris Lum and senior center Jim Liebler.

Spadola is a first-team selection after earning third-team All-America honors from the Sports Network last season. Lum will be on either the first team or the second team, depending on the results of the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which will be presented Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.

Liebler was named to the third team.

By the way, North Dakota State, the team that defeated Lehigh 24-0 in the FCS quarterfinals on Dec. 10, advanced to the FCS national title game with a 35-7 semifinal win over Georgia Southern. The 13-1 Bison, who opened the season with a 42-6 win over Lafayette, will face Sam Houston State on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.
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