After 11 seasons as head coach, and after helping build Iroquois into one of the best football programs in Western New York, Frank Payne has stepped down.
"I've enjoyed my time -- I was with the program 19 years and head coach the last 11, and one of my goals was to turn the program around," said Payne. "I think they had won around 19 games in 1990s, and I think we won about 72 games in the 2000s. We did a lot of great things. I think it's time for me to move on and pursue an new opportunity or two. I put everything in 24-7 and I'm looking to take a little break."
Payne notified school officials of his decision on Thursday and told the Chiefs players in a team meeting. As he walked down the hallway after the meeting, Payne said several surprised people stopped him and said, "you're kidding me, right?"
"So I had to answer some questions, but you just know when it's time to make a change," he said. "It's tough to leave a program you've built, but but there's a time to move on and this is the time. It wasn't a rash decision."
Payne was 73-32, with Iroquois making the Section VI playoffs in 10 of his 11 years. The Chiefs made four trips to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the Section VI championships, winning two titles (2004, 2006) and advancing to the state semifinals in 2004.
Payne, who teaches physical education at Iroquois Intermediate School, said he will continue as head coach of the girls basketball team, a position he took on this past season. He said he would be coaching football somewhere in the fall, but most likely as an assistant and most likely at a high school. He said he had already been approached with some opportunities.
The responsibility of being the head coach of two varsity programs was part of Payne's decision.
"I really enjoy working with the girls varsity program and there's a bright future there," he said. "Coaching two major sports back-to-back is doable, but I'm not sure I'd be able to give everything I could to both. One of my things is that whenever I do something, I want to do it right."
Payne's tenure as head coach also saw the community rally around the program, including the construction of lights at Milt Latimer Field.
"I want to thank all of the Iroquois community for their support," he said. "All the fan support is a big part of the program right now, thanks to the fans and all the former players and coaches. I want to thank them for all of their hard work. And Go Chiefs -- I know they're going to do well."
taggedFootball | High school football | Iroquois