‘I deserved better than this’

Goddard shocked, saddened as his time at Shrine comes to an end

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published November 22, 2017

 John Goddard was recently f

John Goddard was recently f

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

"I’m sure there are people who felt it was my time to walk away, but I feel like I deserved better than this. I never expected to have my career end by getting fired."

John Goddard,

ROYAL OAK — In his mind, he had at least one year left.

John Goddard would return to the sidelines for the Royal Oak Shrine football team for his 50th year as a head coach, and then, there’d be a serious consideration about calling it a career.


But that decision proved not to be Goddard’s, as the long-time Knights coach was told recently that he and his staff would not be brought back for his 26th season with the program.


“I got called in for a meeting, and they said they were going in a different direction,” Goddard said last week, the shock of his career coming to an end still evident in his tone. “I really have no idea why. I mean, I had no idea it was coming or why this happened. The bottom line is, I was fired. That’s what I want stressed. They fired me.”


Shrine finished 2017 with a 3-6 record, missing the state playoffs for just the second time since 2003.

Three of this year’s losses came by a combined 11 points.


According to Goddard, the offseason plan was already in place and his focus was on the 2018 season, which he admitted would likely be his last.


When contacted for this story, Shrine Athletic Director Benjamin Kerfoot said the only comment the school wished to make was done so in a release to the parents of the parish.


“Coach John Goddard recently completed 25 years of service as the head football coach of Shrine Catholic High School,” the press release, signed by Monsignor Robert J. McClory, the president of Shrine Catholic Schools, said. “On behalf of the entire Shrine community, we would like to thank Coach Goddard for his dedication, commitment, and success over the years.  As an alumnus and a valued member of the Shrine community, we will always be grateful for his years of service.  With his 25-year tenure now concluded, Shrine High School will start a search for our next head football coach to be in place to begin serving for the 2018 football season. We will be establishing a search committee and ask for your prayers for Coach Goddard and his family and that the Holy Spirit will guide our search for a new head coach.”


Goddard said he asked why he was being let go and that they said “they were going in a different direction for the betterment of the program.”


“I really can’t speculate as to why they felt this way,” Goddard said. “I was really in total shock. I asked for my 50th season in the Catholic League, and they said ‘no.’”


Goddard came to Shrine in 1993 and began his tenure with a 1-8 record. The following year the team went 6-3, then 7-2 in 1995 as Shrine quickly became a consistent power among the smaller Catholic League programs.


In total, Goddard had just three losing seasons, and beginning in 1999, took Shrine to the playoffs 16 times in 18 years.

That includes a 12-year streak from 2003 to 2014 in which the Knights went to the postseason every fall.

Goddard ends his tenure with the program with a 162-88 record that includes three district titles and three Prep Bowl championships.


“My overall record speaks for itself,” Goddard said when asked if he thought this year’s finish had anything to do with his release.


Asked if he felt the game had passed him by at his age (72), Goddard laughed.


“I’m sure there are people who felt it passed me by 20 years ago,” he said. “And yes, I’m sure there are people who felt it was my time to walk away, but I feel like I deserved better than this. I never expected to have my career end by getting fired. … This is going to be with me forever. I earned the right to walk away when I wanted to. I knew my time was winding down, and there wasn’t going to be 10 more years of this. I’m not naive to think that way. I’m very proud of what we did here (the past 25 years) which is why this is so hard to accept.”