Carlin B. Carpenter
Carpenter honored at annual Bluffton College Alumni and Friends golf outing
Coach Carpenter with members of the 1979 football team
By Ben Risinger
Sports Information Director
It is always a special time when a coach retires. For former Bluffton football coach Carlin Carpenter, last week's annual Bluffton College golf outing proved to be one of those events that every coach loves as he rides off into the sunset.
Carpenter, Bluffton's head coach for 24 years, retired this summer. At his retirement, he was the longest active Ohio college football coach.
Last Saturday marked the sixth annual Bluffton Alumni and Friends golf outing, held at Colonial Golf Club in Lima, Ohio. Unknown to the former coach, many of his original 23 football players from 1979 were reuniting at the golf outing to send him off in a special way. That way was the gift of a rocking chair. A rocking chair with a plaque on the top that read, "1 of 23. Thanks coach Carpenter. 1979 Bluffton College football team."
"It was a total surprise," Carpenter said. "This just kind of shows me how you never know how you will impress people or if you will have an impact on their lives. They (1979 team) appreciated Bluffton. I was very pleased to see that they are all great men. It was just really good to see them."
When Carpenter started with his first squad there were around 67 players. Through three-a-day workouts and pushing his players to the brink of exhaustion, only 23 survived. At the end of the season, Coach Carpenter gave each man a shirt that read, "1 of 23." Over half of the original team came to the golf outing, and to this day those 23 men still hold coach in the highest regard.
Former player Mike Kelly, who is now a coach for the Washington Redskins, spearheaded the reunion effort some time ago. Kelly contacted the members of the first team and explained that he wanted to do something to help honor the man that had done so much for them on and off the field.
"Everything I have done in my career I could say I owe to him for teaching me and helping me become a better person," Kelly said. "This man has done so much for Bluffton in the last quarter century; it's unbelievable."
Another player that was touched by Carpenter was Mike Giesken. Giesken transferred to Bluffton from Wilmington College in January 1979 and didn't know what to expect. He did know that he wanted to play football, but didn't get the best first impression from the coach.
"The first thing that coach says to me is 'why would I want you on my team? You're a quitter for leaving Wilmington.' I just told him that I would love to play football," Giesken said. "He drove me like a dog that first year, but I wasn't going to quit. The next year he made me a captain and told me that anyone who would put up with him in his first year deserved to be a captain."
Carpenter was also given other retirement awards. He received footballs signed by some noteworthy coaches including the national football champion coach from Ohio State, Jim Tressel.
"This is a little overwhelming to me," Kelly said. "If I were to say what Coach Carpenter means to me I would say that I love him. It is a very all-encompassing term to me. That's how much this guy means to me."
"Coach Carpenter taught me two things - to hang in there always and to be a servant warrior," Giesken said. "Those come from what his three rules were, 1.) give your best 2.) do what's right, and 3.) the golden rule (do unto others). Those are lessons that I still use in life today."
Coach Carpenter will be honored and sent off into the sunset on Sept. 20 at the first home football game against Thiel College. There will be a reception before the game with a barbecue dinner afterwards and a program in Founders Hall for Coach Carpenter and his wife Sharon.
Even with all the recognition that he has been getting, coach Carpenter is still a very humble as he spoke of his first football team, "They did more for me than I did for them. I was new and the players dedicated themselves to the program."
For more information on Carlin Carpenter Day or to reserve tickets, call (800) 488-3257, option 5, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.