The Person High School football team will have a new leader on the sidelines for the 2019 season.
Dave Kleine announced to The Courier-Times Thursday that he has resigned as the Rockets' head football coach. He informed the team of his decision Thursday morning at the school.
According to Kleine, this move was made, in large part, so he would have more time free to be with his family, wife Amanda, daughters Payton and Grayson and granddaughter Karsyn. Kleine will continue on as a history teacher at Person.
“It’s never a great time to walk away, but with some of the family dynamics, it’s the right time. it will allow me to be a better husband, father and grandfather," Kleine said. "I’ve had the honor to be in this position because I’ve had such great family support that I believe I need to give that support to my family."
Kleine was 23-45 in his six years as head coach and made the playoffs twice during his tenure, in 2015 and 2016. The Rockets went 3-8 this season and were 1-6 in the Mid-State Conference for the second consecutive year.
Kleine was promoted to head coach in 2013 following a one-year stint by Doug Robertson before he left to take over the program at Eastern Guilford.
In his time leading the Rockets, the program has experienced growth in participation, with several players moving on to play college football, the latest being N.C. State signee Joshua Harris.
“Getting the job six years ago this January, my goal was to get our program to respectability and to be a competitive team. I wanted to get our participation up, cut down on our discipline issues and represent our county better. We’ve got a lot of our equipment updated, we have a big enough staff and consistency in our staff. I think we’ve gotten a lot of that done. We’ve had a 100-percent graduation rate among players who have stayed in our program and our discipline issues are down to a minuscule number. We’ve gotten a lot things done and we’re heading in a good direction. It’s like I told our guys, this isn’t a funeral. When I die, on my tombstone, it won’t say Dave Kleine, it’ll say Coach Kleine. I’ll still be around and supporting them any way I can.”
Kleine has been a mainstay on a Person football coaching staff that went through many changes in his nearly 20 years at the school.
“He’s always done a good job and I appreciate everything he’s done for the kids," Person athletic director Jeremy Clayton said. "There’s never been anyone who cares more about Rocket athletics than Kleine. I wish him well. I hope his next endeavors are fantastic."
Kleine joined Person head coach John Lacy Harris's staff in 2001 -- his final year leading the Rockets. In his 12 years as an assistant at Person, he also coached under Mark Lunsford, Gary Merrill, Don Donevan, Lou Geary and Robertson.
“I hope that I’ve impacted athletes in positive ways, not just on the field but in life," Kleine said. "I’ve coached almost 400 football games, JV and varsity and I’ve had the opportunity to be around a lot of wonderful people. I’m so proud to have had the honor to take the field with a lot of outstanding young men.”