Coach returns to football after running giant squid business

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

There are always coaches who walk away from high school athletics, only to come back shortly thereafter. The reasons why they return run the gamut, from economic necessity to desperate longings for sports' customary adrenaline rush.

Former Alta and new Hunter football coach Les Hamilton
Former Alta and new Hunter football coach Les Hamilton

Still, few returning coaches did anything in the intervening time between coaching stints anywhere near as unique as Les Hamilton, the former head football coach at Alta (Utah) High, who will take over at Hunter (Utah) High in fall 2011. In the span of only a few months since retiring from his position at Alta in December 2010, Hamilton ran a South American seafood business that shipped giant squid across the world, was investigated for accepting bribes from Alta parents, then was cleared of those charges in time to return and take the open position at Hunter.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, all that turmoil only made Hamilton more excited to return to coaching with a program which will expect to compete in the playoffs nearly every season.

"We'll see how my family reacts to jumping back in the saddle and coaching again," Hamilton told the Tribune. "At the time I was real burned, real frustrated, but those eight months being in Chile made me realize how much I missed just being around the kids."

Chilean giant squid
Chilean giant squid

Hamilton and his family left Utah for Chile after the conclusion of the 2010 football season, all while allegations were heating up that the coach had accepted bribes from parents to ensure playing time for their children.

Yet the coach's family reportedly struggled to adjust to life in Chile, particularly one of Hamilton's children, who found it hard to learn in a Spanish-language school. Those adjustment problems led to Hamilton's wife and four children's decision to return to Utah, all while Hamilton himself remained running the seafood business that specialized in shipping giant squid -- like the one you see above -- in Chile.
All the while, the call of both Hamilton's children and the football field -- where the coach led Alta to two state titles -- continued to call him back, leading to his application for the Hunter position when it unexpectedly came open in late May.

"For me, honestly, it feels like a blessing because jobs never come open this time of year," Hamilton said. "To me it was a blessing and a sign that this was what I need to be doing."

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