By Michael Leonard | Record Publishing Co.
In his 10 years as Woodridge head football coach, Eric Ervin transformed the Bulldogs from a team at the bottom of the Portage County League to a perennial playoff contender at the top of the Portage Trail Conference.
However, Ervin will not be back for an 11th year.
According to Woodridge athletic director Nick Mayer, Ervin met with him on Wednesday and expressed his desire to step back from his position as head football coach.
"He didn't really resign because all of our supplemental coaching contracts are renewed at the end of the year," Mayer said. "He just won't be renewed.
"He wants to spend more time with his family," Mayer added. "It was in no way a negative parting. His obligation as a dad was taking over his obligation as a coach, which I definitely understand. He was a great asset to our football program for a long time."
Ervin stressed his decision was motivated by family reasons.
"It's a decision that I had to make for my family and for Woodridge," Ervin said. "My son is going to be going to high school next year and my daughter will be at middle school. It wasn't fair to my wife and my kids or the team. I just couldn't be 100 percent committed to the program."
Ervin said he plans to continue at Woodridge as an English teacher.
According to Woodridge Local Schools treasurer Deanna Levenger, Ervin's teaching salary for the 2013-14 school year is $60,915. His supplemental coaching contract as head football coach paid him $7,200.
In addition to his family obligations, Ervin said he also is working on his master's degree in educational administration at Ashland University.
Ervin noted that he's not closing the door on his coaching future, even at Woodridge.
"Right now, it's just the right move for myself and Woodridge," Ervin said. "It would have to be a really special fit for me to take a job. I'll never say, 'I'll never coach again.' I love coaching football. It's kind of fun building something out of nothing. It was fun to do it. The challenges are just different."
After winning just six games in his first three years with the program, Ervin finished his career with a record or 57-48 with the Bulldogs, including 2-3 in two playoff appearances -- the school's first-ever postseason berths.
Ervin led Woodridge to its first shared league title and first playoff berth in 2009. The Bulldogs reached the Division IV regional final in 2009 before bowing out to eventual state runner-up Chagrin Falls.
Woodridge also reached the Division III playoffs in 2012.
In his last year, Ervin led the Bulldogs to a record of 8-3 and their first outright league championship in school history. Woodridge hosted its first Division IV playoff game, but lost to Cleveland Benedictine 28-0 in the first round.
Ervin was named Portage Trail Conference County Division Coach of the Year in 2013.
"My time at Woodridge has been phenomenal," Ervin said. "To come into a situation where we had a blank slate, we've built it into a pretty recognized team. I'm proud of the fact that we've won championships, and I'm proud that we made the playoffs.
"The next coach at Woodridge is going to have a better team next year than we even had this year," he added. "It's hard, in that sense, to walk away."
Mayer said on Wednesday that he had yet to start the process of hiring a new head coach and did not set a timetable for the hiring, other than to say he wanted to hire a new coach "as soon as possible."
"We're going to meet as an administrative team and look at our options," Mayer said. "We want to get somebody into that position that can start building their program. We're going to move on it, but we're going to make sure we have a thorough process."
Ervin said he is grateful for all the support he received from Woodridge.
"The Woodridge community has been very supportive of what we've done," Ervin said.