SHERIDAN — After 11 seasons, 102 wins and five state championships, Don Julian has resigned as head coach of the Sheridan High School football team.
Julian informed the team of his decision in a meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Sheridan County School District 2 officially announced the resignation in a press release Wednesday morning.
“Not only is Don one of the winningest high school football coaches in Wyoming history, he is an effective leader and mentor who has developed a culture of excellence and camaraderie among his staff, coaches and athletes,” SCSD2 superintendent Craig Dougherty said in the press release.
The decision came on the heels of the Broncs’ undefeated season and third consecutive state title.
Sheridan finished the year 12-0, a season in which Julian consistently made efforts to soak up the little things and observe his surroundings more so than he had done in the past.
While the coach admitted the decision was close to a year in the making, he and his wife, Jeannie, concluded now was the time to step away in order to spend more time taking care of his parents.
Julian’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and Jeannie has devoted extra time in the past year taking care of him. Julian decided he needed to do the same.
“I feel like this is the right move,” Julian said in the team meeting Tuesday. “I feel like you all will understand why, and I feel like it’s going to lead to bigger and better things for all of us in a lot of ways, because I think it’s for the right reasons.”
During Tuesday’s team meeting, Julian reflected on his first year as Broncs head coach, a 5-4 2007 season that ended in a 5-4 record, the team’s first winning season in over a decade. After that inaugural season, Sheridan won at least eight games a year and made it to the semifinals or better each season.
The Broncs won state championships in 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Julian earned Coach of the Year honors all five of those years and was named Super 25 Coach of the Year twice. He leaves Sheridan with an .822 winning percentage, and the Broncs will head into the 2018 season on an 18-game winning streak.
Outside of the numbers, Julian recognized the work that was done within the confines of Sheridan High School and within the Sheridan community. He credited the tradition of football in Sheridan for his initial interest in coaching at SHS and acknowledged his groups of players and coaches — most of which started when Julian did — for contributing to the championship culture for which he leaves behind.
“I’m also a believer that change is a good thing,” Julian said. “It’s never easy; it’s sometimes very difficult. Today was very difficult. But usually good things happen; you’ve just got to battle through that. And we have incredible people in our system; we have incredible players in our system; and we have an incredible community that has a tradition of football that is very important.”
For 27 years, Julian called the gridiron home, first at Riverton then for a stint at the University of Wyoming before moving to Sheridan. During that career, he built families in the locker room.
But as the season’s passed and his father’s health declined, Julian saw a shift in mindset. A man who comes up with a word to define each year, he looked at 2017 and decided to “prioritize.” All that time devoted to his football family took away from time spent with his real-life family.
After one final season — a perfect one, at that — the home life took priority. Jeannie corralled the entire family for a final trip to Laramie for what would end up being the final game for a husband and father.
“They all wanted to surround me in anticipation that that is going to be the last game I coach as a Bronc,” Julian said of the most recent state championship appearance. “And what a special night that was.
A fluid transition from football to family.
“I’ve decided to prioritize in a way that is probably a little bit more fitting for what I preach all the time to these kids,” the coach said. “And I haven’t always done that in my life.”
Along with Julian’s football statistics, championships and records, he played a heavy roll in renovating Homer Scott Field and expanding the locker rooms and training facilities at Sheridan High School, among other duties as both head football coach and SHS activities director. He also serves as president on the Sheridan Recreation District’s board of directors.
SCSD2 and Julian announced that the search for the new SHS head football coach will being internally with the current coaching staff. The new coach is expected to be hired by early 2018.