Monday, December 17, 2012


Old Ric Flair Being Forced Out  
Randy Bethel was fired on Friday evening.  Thus, everyone on our coaching staff was let go at the same time.  Sebastian River High School (SRHS)  decided that they wanted to go in a different direction.  I guess we all have to face the facts at least once in our life.  I am going to do my best to keep this together, and I am going to try and paint a picture of what is happening in my life (and in my head) as I face the facts that I am no longer a Football Coach at SRHS.   
You know, it's funny.  I am not really sure why I kept this blog in the first place.  Truthfully, I never really intended to retire at the end of this season, although Coach Wilson, Coach Brown and I often made false promises that SRHS would miss us when we were not here next year.  In fact, in the opening statement of my blog, I stated that this could very possibly be my last year at SRHS.  I never really believed it would happen. 
Not Being Wanted Anymore is Hell
If this would have happened last year it would have been understandable.  If this would have happened two years ago, it would have been even more understandable.  We were struggling with a young team, and our win/loss record showed it.  People were not interested in our program any longer, and the empty stands were quite disheartening.  What were we doing wrong?  Why are we not getting the athletes out for football?  Why did I feel like hiding every time I walked into a Home Depot or Walmart?  Was I ashamed? Absolutely not, but I also got tired our answering the same question: "Whats wrong with the football team?" 
This year was different.  We knew we had a senior-loaded team coming back for this season.  We all felt like this was going to be our year.  The kids worked extremely hard during the off-season.  Our seniors were showing great leadership, and we had a great looking group of underclassmen.  YES!  This was it, and we knew it.  We knew the parameters we had to meet in order to keep our job:
A:  We MUST win the district
B:  We MUST get the community behind the program.
The season started off very badly for us.  We lost Coach Washington for the year.  We lost Coach Matthews for most of the season.  We lost Coach Jefferson for six weeks.  We lost Coach Wilson for three weeks.  We were operating on a skeleton coaching crew for most of the year.  All the Varsity coaches were stretched very thin....but we kept pushing forward.  We also lost at least five varsity starting players during the season due to injury or otherwise.....but we kept pushing forward.  Somehow we were going to get it done. We just knew this was our year.   
We dropped a couple of early games to much bigger schools than us.  Both Vero Beach and Ft. Pierce Central were state ranked, but we never quit fighting.  Then, we accomplished an amazing feat.  We ripped off seven straight victories to win the district for the first time in school's history.  We did exactly what we had to do.  People were excited for us.  People wanted to be part of our victory.  Our picture was taken and placed on a banner which hangs in the gym.  Our team was so proud.  Finally our job was safe.....I thought.   Then, our world came crashing down.  All of a sudden we were being pushed out into the street.  What the hell happened?  Didn't we just win the district?  I guess it was not good enough to survive the ax.  Our staff is extremely tight, so I am sure we are all going through the same thing. What is going to happen to Coach Bethel?  Where will all my friends coach next year?  The young guys will move on, but us older guys will probably never hit the field again. 

Who am I?  Why do I really care so deeply for my coaching colleagues?  Do I have a role in coaching anymore?  Who will want a 50 something year old coach who is set in his ways?  What happened to me?  I used to be such a good football coach, but I guess time has passed me by.  I guess I am still useful at fixing or building things for the team, and maybe I could still screw a facemask on a helmet or something.  Need something designed?  Coach George is your man, but he does not know shit about football (X's & O's) anymore.  Maybe I can still be the token old guy on a know the old guy who is always holding a clipboard? 

What about my players?  What will they think?  I wanted to hang around and see Mason and Zack finish up next year.  Did I quit on them?  No I did not!  I am fighting this mental battle in my head....I am having a hard time dealing with this.  I have NEVER been fired at anything.  Am I a loser?  How the hell did that happen?  One minute I want to cry, and the other minute I want to punch a hole in the wall.  I feel hurt and I feel betrayed. 

Here is the rub.  We worked our ass off this year to finish 8-3 to win the district title.....and we still lost our job.  Hell, I could have sat on my ass and did absolutely NOTHING to finish 0-10 (and still get fired.)  I wonder who is smarter?  

Who do I blame?  No one really.  Maybe I will blame society for placing so much emphasis on winning.  Yeah, lets blame society. When did winning become paramount over teaching the "Lessons in Life" that we have to teach every player coming through the system?  However, society loves a winner, so winning must be used to judge how successful a coach is to a community.  Its a shame really, because there are some awesome coaches looking for jobs right now. 



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Coach,

    As much as I tend to agree with you on 99% of everything you say- and that could be because we are a carbon copy of each other in almost every way- I don't agree with it all.

    When I was growing up you always told me, “Mike, Winning isn’t everything- It’s the ONLY thing.” As a kid I just said okay, and would carry on not knowing fully what exactly you meant by that. As I became a man, it became clearer however. You had me on that football field from the time I was crawling right up until the time I was crawling once more, off the sidelines, because my ankle was shredded. You coached and mentored me, and guided me every step of the way. You were there with me every practice, every night sitting down at the drawing board going over those “X’s and O’s” that you claim you don’t know about anymore. You pushed me, and I hated you sometimes over it, but what the Hell did I know, I was just a stupid kid. You took an average sized kid with absolutely zero natural athletic talent, and made me into a pretty decent quarterback, and probably one of the best mechanically. I look back now and realize that I miss the Hell out of it. I would give just about anything to put back on a helmet and play for you once more Coach.
    There are more ways to win, than just one. The scoreboard doesn’t have to reflect that always. Football, just like the Army, is about brotherhood. Having the back of the man standing to your left and right. Eating, Bleeding, Sweating together- and I learned all of that from you. That is probably why I excel in the Infantry. You taught me everything I needed to know about camaraderie, and more important, working your ass off to get shit accomplished. You may be hurting now Coach, but there will always be a “next season.” Football is in your blood, and you can’t just quit something you were born to do. Zaleuke’s aren’t losers- we may lose from time to time, but we always come out on top. Just like Ric Flair, down on his knees shaking his hands pleading for mercy…only to push your opponent in the balls and get back up with a “Fu*k You.”

    Just like a Retired Army Colonel or Command Sergeant Major- you earn that rank for life Coach. You will always be Coach George Zaleuke. You have told me a number of times how I am your Hero- because of this serving my country shit- but in reality you are MY Hero. I wouldn’t be who I am today without your coaching and mentorship. You shaped me into who I am today and I’m damn proud of who I become.

    Thanks Coach, Keep your head up- There is always a Next Season

    - Your Son, #3, Quarterback.

  3. You don't know me and I don't know you but I loved reading your blog. It saddens me to know how real this must feel not only for coach B but for his whole staff. I played for Coach Jefferson and I remember talking about what if Bethel left and he always reminded me even if he doesn't always WIN he is doing the right thing. He gets kids to college and he teaches them how to become a man off the field. He always assured me that when they got rid of him they would lose his assistants without a doubt. I cant tell you I understand your pain but I can tell you that as a Shark Alumni we were proud of this football team. We know you guys put in work, and I thought you had done enough to save your jobs. May the cards fall how they may but don't hesitate to think the community was behind this decision. I know just about every athlete that I've played with or played isn't a fan of this. The timing doesn't make sense at all... anyways good luck in whatever you do next!

    Katie Carr

  4. Dad, I've always said that things happen for a reason. Was it a coincidence that you kept this blog this year? That you talked about the potential "last season"? I'm not so sure. But my brother is right (and you may not hear those words out of my mouth ever again!).

    Coaching is in your blood. It is who you are. What is a coach?

    "A coach is a politician, a judge, a public speaker, a teacher, a trainer, a financier, a laborer, a psychiatrist, psychologist and a chaplain. It also helps if he is an astrologer or at least understands numerology.

    He must be an optimist and yet at times appear a pessimist, seem humble and yet be very proud, strong but at times weak, confident yet not over-confident, enthusiastic but not too enthusiastic.

    He must have the hide of an elephant, the fierceness of a lion, the pep of a young pup, the guts of an ox, the stamina of an antelope, the wisdom of an owl, the cunning of a fox, and the heart of a kitten. It will also be to his benefit to develop the acting ability of a poker player with a pat hand.

    He must be willing to give freely of his time, his money, his energy, his youth, his family life, his health and sometimes even life itself. In return, he must expect little financial reward, little comfort on earth, little privacy, little praise but plenty of criticism.

    However, a good coach is respected in his community, is a leader in his school, is loved by his team, and makes lasting friends wherever he goes.

    He has the satisfaction of seeing youth develop and improve in ability. He learns the thrill of victory and how to accept defeat with grace. His associations with athletes help keep him young in mind and spirit; and he, too, must grow and improve with his team.

    In his heart he knows that, in spite of the inconveniences, the criticisms, and the demands on his time, he loves his profession, for he is THE COACH."

    --- Author Unknown

    A man is not defined by what he has, but by what he does and who he inspires with what he has. You, Dad, have inspired your kids, ALL of your kids, including the ones you have coached, mentored, disciplined, and loved over your years of coaching. They, WE, are who define you. You are, and will always be, Coach George.

  5. Reading the comments of your kids brought tears to my eyes. This is why we coach!!! It is about building life long relationships. It is not X's and O's or calling the right play on Friday night. Football at all levels is about relationships. Our success (both on and off the field) is directly related to the relationships that are built. The relationships that the kids build with each other and our coaching staff is a mirror of the relationship that the coaches have with each other. The Bible tells us in Proverbs '...their will be a friend as close as a brother.' That is the definition of this coaching staff. Since we found out of Coach Bethel's firing we have had very little sleep...and not the lack of sleep that game preparation brings...but the gut wrenching,painful,stressful kind of lack sleep. We all will still see each other in the hallwasy between classes and at lunch. But, it will not be the same. We shared in each others triumph's and tribulations. We have raised our kids together. We have seen each other's highest highs and lowest lows. We have guided so many boys to young men through what we all see as our ministry. It has been an amazing experience. We all have become better teachers, husbands, fathers, coaches, and men because of the life lessons we have shared with each other. All of our student/athletes give us so much pride. We are always here for them. We (coaches and players alike) are all better for being a part of each others' lives!!!

  6. I received this message from a parent today. There have been issues with people having difficulty posting onto this blog. As requested, I have cut and pasted this heartfelt message.

    Coach George, you know me and both my boys, Nikko and Zach and I know you as a friend. I am also saddened by the school's decision. For the past five years I have sat at every game and supported the Sebastian Sharks.
    Coach George, you and the rest of the coaching staff have had both my sons in your program (Nikko who graduated last year and Zach will be graduating in 2014). I have sat in every stand at every game for the last five years and you are correct to say that it would not have been a surprise if Coach Bethel was let go last year or the year before that but to let a coach go when he finally has a season like you guys turned out leaves me speechless.
    It is sad to sit in the stands and listen to every "better coach" that I sit next to. Coaching is a thankless job and is only appreciated if the team wins.
    I can tell the entire coaching staff thank you, thank you, thank you. My sons are better people from being under the tutelage of that coaching staff.
    I can only wish the parents would get behind their own kids with the support and love that the entire coaching staff gives each young man on that team. I was the booster club vice president this past year and it saddens me to see the lack of support from parents towards their own kids and the help that is needed to run a successful program.
    I believe if the school wants to "head in a differenct direction" then they should fire the parents and bring in parents that will support the program and their own kids.
    Coach George, you are the BEST. Good Luck and don't stop coaching because there are many many kids that can become better human beings from your talents. John Finnegan

  7. Coach, it saddens me that SRHS would do that to you guys. I don't know you, but I do know coach Bethel. He coached me for one season(1991) at Miami Sunset Senior High. He was the offensive coordinator and I was a WR. Back then, I couldn't stand him at all, but I was a 17 year old kid who didn't know any better! Once I became an adult, I realized that coach Bethel was always on my back, yelling, and screaming at me because he knew that I was not playing and working out as hard as I could have and should have. I wished that I could see or talk to him because I really would like to thank him from the bottom of my heart for the life lessons that he taught me. If you ever see him, mention the name Charles Jones and Miami Sunset Senior High. He may not even remember me though, lol!