Bill Helzer was looking to turn around the fortunes of the Hoffman Estates football program when he became its head coach six years ago.
But after winning just 1 game in the last three years, Helzer decided Thursday it was best to turn the challenge over to someone else. Helzer submitted his resignation to Hoffman principal Jim Britton and athletic director Steve Lacni after going 7-47 in his tenure.
It's a little bittersweet because I didn't think Year 6 would be like this," Helzer said of the Hawks' second winless finish in the last three seasons. "I love the kids and the school and it's not fair to them if I'm not where I was six years ago with my enthusiasm, dedication and energy. I think whoever comes in will be like that.
"For me it's been a positive experience the last six years, but in the end we weren't getting the results we wanted on the field and that takes its toll."
Hoffman last made the playoffs in 1994 when Helzer graduated from Prospect and had its last winning season in 2000.
Helzer was a standout player at North Park and was an assistant at Round Lake and Barrington before going to Lake Zurich. He spent six years there, where he was a defensive coordinator and instrumental part of the program's turnaround into an eventual state champion.
There were some positive signs when Hoffman won 2 games in each of Helzer's first three seasons. In his third year the Hawks won their first two games, and despite losing their best player to injury (Jerome Henderson), they were competitive with nearly everyone on a schedule that included six playoff teams.
"We never got that signature season to kick-start it again," said Helzer, who teaches social studies at the school. "Hopefully the next person can kick-start it."
Helzer does feel good about the weightlifting, conditioning, community service, team bonding and fundraising programs he instituted since he came to Hoffman. He also appreciated all of the support he received in District 211 from people such as athletic director Otis Price and Lacni.
Helzer said he definitely plans to continue coaching next year.
"I have no complaints and no regrets and this made me a better person and a better coach," Helzer said. "I met a lot of great people and I learned a lot as a coach.
"I feel we treated the players with a family atmosphere and respect and I hope they are successful here in the future. (District 211) is a great place to coach."