ST. GEORGE — Athletics, in its various forms, have been an integral part of Darrell Larsen’s professional life. But Wednesday morning, the Pine View basketball coach decided he’s had enough.
Larsen, who won state championships in track and field and basketball as a head coach and football and basketball as a player, announced his retirement Wednesday, saying he didn’t want to miss out on his sons’ senior years in high school.
“After much reflection, I have decided to retire from all coaching,” he said Wednesday. “I’m so happy and at peace. I feel like the weight of the world has been taken from my shoulders.”
Larsen, who coached Pine View to the 2015 3A State Championship in basketball, expounded on his decision-making process and reasoning for the life change in an email he sent to “the Pine View basketball family,” which included current and former players, parents of players, assistant coaches and Pine View administrators.
“As many of you know, I have been wrestling with the timing of this decision for several years now,” he wrote. “But after more than two decades of helping other boys to make the most of their high school athletic careers, I feel that I would always regret not giving my full time and energy to my own boys their last year in high school. So after many long hours of discussion with my family, I have decided that now is the right time.”
Larsen was named as Pine View’s head coach in 2008 and slowly built the Panthers into a powerhouse. In the 2014-15 season, Pine View went 23-2 and beat region rival Dixie in the state championship game at the Maverik Center in West Valley.
Larsen also sent an email out to fellow coaches around the state, saying, “I want to thank all of you for your support, competitiveness and friendship over the years. And I wanted to make sure you all heard it directly from me.
“No one but a fellow coach or a coach’s wife knows how much time outside of the practices and games that is required to be a head coach and Ronda has always supported me. I love and appreciate my family more than I can express and I want to publicly thank them.”
Larsen is the son of a coach and has been heavily involved in athletics his entire life. In high school, he won six state championships (three in football, three in basketball) and was a highly-recruited player, eventually attending Wisconsin on a football scholarship.
At Pine View, Larsen was an assistant in many sports, including football, baseball, track and field, softball, golf and boys basketball. He was the head coach of PV track for two state championships.
As head coach of the basketball team, Larsen compiled a record of 94-64 (60 percent).
Larsen met with his team Wednesday afternoon before making the announcement to the public.
The now former coach said he will stay at Pine View as a teacher, for now.
“I will continue to teach for the next few years and I want to thank the Pine View administration for their support in my decision,” he said. “I have asked (assistant) coach (Ryan) Eves to take the lead on keeping our spring and summer program moving forward with open gyms, camps and tournaments.
Pine View principal Mike Mees said Larsen’s legacy as a coach will include his reputation for working hard and preparing well.
“I think he leaves us knowing that as a coach he did the very best he could,” Mees said. “He truly cared for the boys and that’s the thing I think about the most, coming from our position. He put in a lot of preparation and hard work — effort — in making kids competitive and building a program we could be proud of.”
Mees said the school has not set a timeline yet for hiring a replacement for Larsen, but with offseason programs and camps, getting a new coach in place will be a high priority.
Last season, Pine View was 14-10 and was eliminated from championship contention in the the state quarterfinals by Canyon View.
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