WHITEFISH — Whitefish head football coach Chad Ross is stepping down after 12 years, leaving behind an incredible legacy.
In Ross' first season with the team, he went 1-8, and built the Bulldogs up before leading Whitefish to the Class A state football title in 2015, the school's first since 1979. But it’s not records he’s thinking about right now, it’s relationships.
"Sure, as far as wins or losses, that's one of my greatest events that I've been a part of," Ross said. "But since my announcement of getting out, the the amount of love and support that I've gotten from from players and parents and community members in over the past 24 years, because I was 12 years as an assistant, has just been incredible. So that is probably my greatest thought in this whole run is the relationships I have built."
So while people will look at wins and losses when they discuss the Ross era, that’s not how the coach will define his time.
"People outside of coaching don't understand how much time we spend with them," Ross said. "So it's truly an honor just to watch them grow and mature. I mean, there's so much more to life than just the record books. I have learned really how to mentor young men and that that's been exciting."
The payoff? Not the development of players, but the development of men long after their playing careers are over.
"The conversations I get when people are getting married and say, 'Hey coach, I had a baby that I want you to see,' I mean those are the lasting things that will be there and it is humbling," Ross said. "Its humbling to know that people still want you to be part of their life."
As for what his players will remember most about him, football rarely is mentioned, which is the greatest compliment a coach can receive.
"A state championship, stuff like that. I think that his wins definitely set a high bar for him but I think at the same time I think its just everyone loves him," Whitefish senior quarterback Fynn Ridgeway said, "Everyone loves him as a coach and I think that everyone appreciates that."