QUICKSBURG — Dick Krol has never been concerned about wins and losses, or state playoff appearances. The Stonewall Jackson football coach has always cared about the players first and foremost.
After 28 years as football coach at Stonewall Jackson, Krol recently announced his retirement from teaching and coaching. Not surprisingly for anyone who knows him, Krol declined to be interviewed for this story, preferring it to be kept low-key, but Krol’s presence on the sidelines for the last 28 years had an impact on the program and the many players who came through there.
Stonewall Jackson coach Patrick Smoot said Krol has been a “huge role model in my coaching life” as well as in his personal life.
“Things that he’s taught us over the years and things that he’s done for us speaks volumes for who he is. You have that relationship where at the beginning you’re scared coming in as an eighth grader. Then you realize as long as you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do coach Krol is going to support you, and follow you to make sure you do things properly. By the time you’re a senior and you’ve dedicated your five years there, he respected you and you had a mutual respect for him,” Smoot said.
Smoot, who played for Krol, an assistant coach on Krol’s football staff. Stonewall Jackson Athletic Director Todd Fannin also coached as an assistant under Krol, and said the biggest thing is how much Krol cared about the players and tried to help them become better people.
“He doesn’t know how many wins he has, or how many regional championships, or how many district championships,” Fannin said. “That’s not important to him. He just wants to be able to help young men become productive people in business and society.”
Fannin said that Krol has been thinking about retiring the last few years, but this year decided that it was time.
Fannin said it’s a big loss for the football program.
“I can’t even begin to sum up what he’s meant to this program,” Fannin said. “It goes so far beyond the Xs and Os, the wins and the losses.”
One of Stonewall Jackson’s biggest rivalries over the years was with Strasburg. The two teams met several times in the playoffs.
Former Strasburg coach Glenn Proctor said before Krol arrived at Stonewall Jackson the program went through a lot of different coaches, and Krol really turned things around.
“He really put Stonewall Jackson football on the map,” Proctor said. “The first few years were tough, but once he got that program established I’m going to tell you what, they were formidable for anybody on their schedule.”
Proctor said that he always knew what to expect of Krol’s teams year after year.
“What you knew they would always do was they would play scrappy and play hard and they played good defense,” Proctor said. “I think that’s really a testimony to Dick.”
Smoot said that Krol played a huge role in him finding a college, and that if it wasn’t for Krol, he might not have ended up at Bridgewater College.
He said that’s just one example of what Krol’s done for the athletes he’s coached.
“What he does for those kids — they talk about the laundry and they talk about the recycling and everything else, but there’s so much else that he does behind the scenes that he does and no one ever knows and that’s just how he is,” Smoot said. “He’s never been one to want the spotlight on him. He wanted it on the kids, so that’s what he did. He wanted to put them in the best situation to be successful and he stayed in the background of it. That’s very rare to find anymore.”
Krol finished his career at Stonewall with 142 wins, including two Region B titles in the late 1990s. The Generals struggled last season, but did win the final game of the regular season.
Stonewall Jackson senior Derrick Smith, who ran for more than 1,000 yards last season, said he was happy that he was able to play for Krol.
“It’s sad to see him go. I’m just glad that I was lucky enough to play for him,” Smith said. “He’s a little old school. He’ll give you an earful if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do. But as long as you do what you’re supposed to do and you work hard, he won’t have no problems with you.”
Krol is also Stonewall Jackson’s track co-head coach. He has helped guide the Generals to several state titles, including the boys state title in 2012.
Fannin said that they would like to hire a new coach as soon as they can, but it will probably be sometime after April. Teaching contracts are due in April, so after that teaching positions will open up for anyone who wants to apply from outside of the area.
Smoot said it will be hard to replace Krol, who he said seems to know everyone.
“He knows everybody — big time people, or every day people, and that’s one thing you’ll always see or hear when you’re out with him,” Smoot said. “He’ll always be talked about in this school and looked upon. He will be what Stonewall is, especially Stonewall football, for a very long time.”
Most importantly, Smoot said that the lessons that he and many others that have been around Krol learned will last a lifetime.
“That’s what I’ll remember the most about him — the lessons that he’s taught me in life and what I carry on still today,” Smoot said. “The kids may not realize it now, but he’s going to be a large factor in their life and they won’t even know it. They’ll just look back one day and they’ll realize ‘Hey, I learned that from Coach Krol,’ and that’s the nice thing about it.
“It’s going to be very weird next year not seeing him. Man’s been here for 28 years and has done so much for this program, for this school. He’s going to be missed. He’s going to be extremely missed.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org