When she was introduced in March of 2010, Natalie Randolph was hailed across the nation as a pioneer. She was reportedly the only active female high school head coach at the time of her hiring and only the third ever to coach in the high school ranks.
But four seasons after taking the reins at Coolidge High, the only head football coach that seniors at the Washington D.C. school have ever known is leaving as a leader who made an impact on and off the field.
As reported by The Washington Post and other outlets, Randolph officially resigned from her position as head coach of the Coolidge Colts days after a season-ending loss. The final setback dropped the team’s 2013 record to 1-10 and Randolph’s career mark at the school to 16-26.
What that record doesn’t fully express is the impact Randolph had at the school. The coach took over a dismal program and led it to an appearance in the prestigious D.C. Turkey Bowl in her second season, an achievement that was considered seismic. That 2011 Coolidge team finished with an 8-3 record.
Even more significant was the connection Randolph made with her athletes, who were left despondent after she privately announced her decision to the team on Tuesday. While the coach officially resigned on Tuesday, word of her departure did not leak publicly until late Thursday.
"My son cried like a baby when he got [home]. . . the kids love her, man. Those kids broke down," J.R. Bolden, the father of Coolidge quarterback Jamar Bolden, told the Post. "Her place is going to be hard to be taken for the kids that are already there. … Football is never over for her."
As for Randolph, the coach — who spent two years as an assistant at city rival H.D. Woodson before taking control of the Coolidge program — felt now was the right time to focus on teaching her environmental science courses and spend more time with her family.
"[Coaching] takes up a lot of time. I'm focused on family, spending more time with family, and focused on handling a lot my own personal business," Randolph said Thursday. "It takes a lot of time to do it right. And it’s not fair for the kids if I need to pull back. I wouldn't be able to give them 100 percent.
"I'm an all or nothing type of gal. … I'm a teacher."
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