Printed on: May 01, 2013

Molino to lead Tigers

By MICHAEL LYCKLAMA
mlycklama@postregister.com

Idaho Falls High School stayed close to home to find its next football coach.

The Idaho Falls School District 91 Board of Trustees approved Pete Molino, an assistant the past two years, as the Tigers' next football coach during Tuesday afternoon's work session.

Molino, 41, coached the defensive line for the varsity squad last fall and the defensive line for the junior varsity in 2011. He played tight end at Idaho State from 1989-92 under Kyle Wittingham, Utah's head coach, and Dave Christensen, Wyoming's head coach. Both coaches provided references for Molino.

He returned to his alma mater to coach tight ends at Idaho State in 1996. He then left coaching to start a business, Access Point Family Services, Inc., which helps children with behavioral and developmental disorders, specializing in autism.

He said that while he doesn't bring any head coaching experience to Idaho Falls -- none of the applicants did -- he can translate the organizational experience of running a company with 50 employees to the football field.

"What I'm looking to bring in is communication and bring in a team of people," said Molino, a behavioral analyst for District 91. "By no means do I think I'm one person that can do everything."

Molino replaces Chuck Johnson, who coached at Idaho Falls for 22 years, the past 13 as head coach. The Tigers went 58-66 under Johnson, qualified for the playoffs six times and reached the 5A state semifinals twice. The District 91 school board opted not to renew Johnson's contract in February.

"Athletics in District 91 are a very emotional topic right now for a lot of people," District 91 athletic coordinator Kerry Martin said. "Pete brings an even-keeled mentality toward the goals of our district of molding young men into our community."

Since January, Molino has organized events for high school football players to read to children at elementary schools. And in March, he established a sled hockey program for disabled children. Community service is an aspect he plans to further extend into the Idaho Falls football program.

He said he will try to avoid the parental issues that led to Johnson's outing by communicating more with parents and being more open.

"It's important they see what I do with the kids and the coaches, being an open book," Molino said. "The more closed off you are, the more open you are to others' misperceptions."

Idaho Falls interviewed four final candidates for the position Wednesday in three steps. Administrators, including Martin, Idaho Falls principal Randy Hurley, Idaho Falls assistant principal Matt Hancock and District 91 superintendent George Boland, conducted an interview in one room. The four applicants also had interviews with parents in one room and players in another room. A moderator conducted the interviews in front of parents and players.

Martin said he expects to conduct interviews for I.F.'s boys basketball coaching position in two weeks.