WATERLOO — Pete Kempf is an all-or-nothing man.
He’s either 100% in or he feels like he’s out of it.
Friday afternoon, KPC Media Group received confirmation from Kempf that he would step down as the head coach of the DeKalb High School football program.
Kempf has been the coach for six seasons and led the Barons to a 27-33 record. The program recently had its most successful season under Kempf, going 8-3 in 2019. Eight wins is the most for DeKalb since 2002.
His decision to step down was his own, and came down to “unique” needs of his son Peter, who recently turned 1. Kempf said he was stretching himself too thin with the football program, DeKalb’s television program, his job as a teacher, internships and his duties as a husband and a father. He and his wife, Jackie, have three children total, Peter, Rowan, 7, and Lottie, 5.
“The primary reason was over the last year my family was blessed with a son, who has some unique challenges that have circumstances that come with it,” Kempf said.
He said he’s been talking with the DeKalb administration for a couple of weeks about the possibility of him stepping down, and Kempf felt like he needed to “be the best provider he can at home.”
“That needs to be my primary focus right now,” Kempf said.
There is no plan for Kempf to take another coaching job or move away from Auburn.
“As much as I love the game of football, DeKalb High School, the kids, the parents and the families that put so much time into me and this program, it was a necessary time to make a change,” Kempf said. “There’s never any good timing for that.”
Kempf knew the challenges he faced when he took over a program that was 0-10 the year before he was hired.
“I fully believe that we’ve come a long way. In my eyes, I would call it a successful failure,” Kempf said. “I’m not necessarily fulfilled with where it is. But I do think it’s become an unbelievable place to be a coach and a teacher.”
A high school head football coach, and many other coaching jobs nowadays, aren’t just a job that is one season. It’s a year-round commitment, and that became too much for Kempf. He felt like he couldn’t give his all.
“My wife has been 110% supportive of me coaching and teaching and doing the TV and radio and out in the community fundraising all the time,” Kempf said. “She has been an amazing partner in this adventure, but it’s on me to make sure that I’m putting my family needs first. And that come at a sacrifice of my commitment to everything else I was doing and it kind of struck home after the birth of Pete and the challenges that he’s going to face over the next handful of years.”
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it forever,” Kempf added. “You look back at some of the great coaches of DeKalb football, Dale Hummer and coach (Ron) Kock. They did it for eight years and when they did it, it was the end of July to November. You see the programs now and what is required to go into it.”
Kempf doesn’t have any regrets over his last six years as a head coach. He said he “doesn’t have anything left in the tank.”
He did admit he tried to grow the program too fast, but he feels like he’s left it in good hands for whoever decides to come into that role next.