At one time or another, most people come to a point in their lives where the time with their loved ones has to be put before the passions that they hold.
On Thursday afternoon, Aaron Duncan officially came to the realization that putting his wife (Becky) and kids first at this point in time was ultimately the right decision to make. The third-year head coach made his resignation official, according to Joe Albrecht, on Thursday, with Duncan confirming the same in a Friday afternoon phone call.
While resigning may mean that Duncan will have to find a new hobby for the time being, the PHS graduate and 20-year sideline vet — 17 years as an assistant coach in addition to three seasons as the head man — is excited about being able to spend time with his wife and two sons.
“With the demands of the job and the responsibilities, the time, and the demands that are falling on the head coach’s lap, it’s caused me to miss out on a lot of my own children’s lives,” Duncan said. “I’ve coached and served other people’s kids, and I’ve enjoyed every minute and every second of it. But in the meantime, my kids aren’t getting any younger. Their lives are fleeting before my eyes, and I miss out on a lot of their activities. In order to have a happy balance there for my family and my time, and to do this job the right way, you have to invest in it 365 days a year, and I’ve done that to the best of my abilities. Now it’s time to hang up the whistle, put the hat on, and be a Dad again.”
Duncan, who was named as the Trojans’ newest head coach in 2015, immediately showed signs of getting the program back to the days of yesteryear as Portsmouth’s record spiked from a 3-7 mark in 2015 to a 6-4 showing in 2016. During that season, the former PHS player-turned-coach led the Trojans to an undefeated mark (3-0) in games decided by single-digits, including a 33-26 win over West, a 33-32 victory over Rock Hill, and a thrilling 51-46 takedown of Fairland to clinch Portsmouth’s first winning season since 2009.
In 2017, Duncan led the Trojans to a 5-5 mark and a 4-3 overall showing in the Ohio Valley Conference during the year despite not having star running back Talyn Parker for four games, and Parker — who ran for 1,010 yards in the abbreviated six-game schedule due to injury — along with Isaac Kelly and Colin Boehm, all earned First-Team All-Southeast District honors. The bounces, ultimately, weren’t as kind as Portsmouth finished a middling 2-2 in games decided by single digits and fell to rival West after holding a 14-3 advantage entering the fourth quarter during the season’s second week of the year.
Still, Duncan looks back on his two decades inside the program with a strong outlook on the entire chain of events — because the program impacted his life, and, in turn, allowed him to impact other lives.
“I’ve got a lot of fond memories,” Duncan said. “I could talk all day about them, back from whenever I was in high school, when I was playing as a Trojan, to the guys that I have played with and shared a locker room with. The coaches that coached me were all special people, and they’re the reason I played college baseball. Whenever I went back to school to teach and coach, most people thought that baseball would be the path that I would take. I had such a great high school experience playing football, and loved the game, as well as the camaraderie that football builds, that I actually spent most of my years coaching football. I did some baseball, but football was really where I enjoyed coaching.”
The decision to resign, however, didn’t come without some reservations — especially considering that leaving the Portsmouth football program would also mean leaving a part of his life in the past.
“It’s the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make in my life,” Duncan said. “I love the Portsmouth community, I love my school and my alma mater, and I love the young men that wear the Red and Blue. I’m a Trojan and I always will be. However, it’s also the easiest decision that I’ve had to make because I don’t get this time back with my own kids and my own family. It’s just the best time and the right thing for me and my family to do right now.”
And at the end of the day, Duncan leaves with no regrets about how everything played out. In fact, if one would ask him, he’s likely to tell said person that he’d do everything over again in the same manner that he did before regardless of the outcome.
“I’ve coached to the best of my ability for 20 years, and hopefully, I’ve made a big impact on kids during that time,” Duncan said. “I’ve gotten to be around a lot of kids during that time, and I can assure you that many of them have left an impact on me.”