Ex-Alta coach Les Hamilton gives up seafood career to return to football
In the eight months since Les Hamilton resigned as Alta's football coach, he has moved to Chile, been investigated for accepting bribes, shipped giant squid across the world, been cleared of the bribery allegations and, now, moved back to Utah.
The man who in December said he would likely never again coach high school football, it turns out, couldn't stay away for even a season.
Hamilton was hired Saturday as the coach at Hunter High School, giving up an executive position in a seafood exporting company and pairing one of the state's most successful coaches with a perennial playoff program.
In eight years as a head coach, the first two at Grantsville, Hamilton accumulated a 74-29 record. Alta won two state championships and reached the state semifinals five times in Hamilton's six years at Alta.
"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."
Turns out, the feeling between the parties was mutual.
"Usually you don't have a lot of applicants who have that much experience," said Pam Olson, Hunter's athletics director. "It was nice to see that name on the list."
Dustin Pearce resigned as Hunter's coach late last month after three seasons with a 19-15 record.
Last fall, Hamilton went to work for the father of an Alta player as a seafood exporter in Chile. He later moved his family with him to South America. But, he said, one of his sons struggled in a Spanish-language school, so Hamilton helped his wife and four kids move back.
Hamilton started to re-evaluate his priorities. He left Alta under a cloud of scrutiny, amid allegations that he accepted bribes from parents in exchange for playing time. He was cleared in January, but at the time said he was uninterested in returning to coaching.
"We'll see how my family reacts to jumping back in the saddle and coaching again," Hamilton said Monday. "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."
Hunter is known for a smash-mouth running game. Hamilton said he intends to integrate his spread offense into the program. Last year, the Wolverines were 7-4 and in 2009 advanced to the 5A semifinals.
"I think they got a good catch," said Bob Stephens, a longtime Alta assistant who replaced Hamilton in December.
Hunter does not have the ready-made championship standard of a program such as Alta, but Hamilton said that will not change his approach.
"The expectation level was high at Alta," he said. "I expect the expectation level to be high here."