San Marino High School football coach and physical education teacher Mike Hobbie has announced he will retire at the end of the school year and step down from his coaching duties.
Hobbie, who took over the varsity baseball program last year, said Monday he will continue to coach the baseball team in the spring before resigning from the position.
SMHS Athletic Director David Irie said the search for a new coach will begin shortly.
“We are working out the logistics,” Irie wrote in an email. “Hopefully, we will have someone in place by May.”
After eight seasons with the Titans, Hobbie said he finally made a decision he’d been leaning toward for some time. He will retire along with his wife, Suzanne, a science teacher at SMHS.
“I don’t know how long I thought about it,” he said. “I was leaning toward it quite a bit and leaving the door open in case I had a change of heart or something would change. Things change all the time. I just finally made the decision and thought, ‘Yes, let’s go ahead and do it. Do some other things.’”
Hobbie cemented his legacy as one of the all-time best coaches in SMHS history by guiding the football team to its greatest season in 2015. The Titans won their first CIF Southern Section championship since 1988 and defeated Chatsworth Sierra Canyon for the CIF State Small Schools Division Southern Regional title. San Marino finished the memorable season with a 15-1 record. The squad’s only blemish was a 56-21 loss to Modesto Central Catholic in the Small Schools Division state championship game at Sacramento State.
However, Hobbie doesn’t want to be remembered for that unforgettable campaign.
“If I can be remembered for anything, it’s that I tried my hardest to not get outworked,” he said. “That I worked harder than the other team.”
With that dedication to the sport, Hobbie forged a reputation for rebuilding programs. In 1993, he guided the football team at Bayshore High School in Florida to a playoff berth in his first season at the helm, after the program had won three games the previous year.
A similar outcome occurred in Tampa when Hobbie took over the Gaither Cowboys, who had gone 1-9 the previous season. He led that program to a 7-5 record.
Successful turnarounds at the high school level landed Hobbie a job as offensive coordinator at the University of South Florida in 2001. He later moved to Fresno and coached at Roosevelt High for four years before applying for the San Marino job.
Hobbie was hired in 2011 and inherited a Titans football program that had gone 3-7 in 2010. The coach’s flair for building up programs continued as he guided San Marino to a 7-4 record in his first season.
The immediate impact was no fluke for Hobbie, who will finish his eight-year career at SMHS with an impressive record of 72-25-1, including a 31-7 mark in Rio Hondo League play. He delivered two league crowns, a CIF-SS Central Division crown and the CIF State Southern Regional title, making San Marino one of the best football programs in the area.
“Mike Hobbie proved time and time again that he was the best coach in the San Gabriel Valley,” Irie said. “Mike maximized the talent he had at San Marino and pushed his players/students to be the best they could be.”
SMHS Principal Issaic Gates echoed Irie but said he will also remember Hobbie’s contributions outside Titan Stadium.
“It’s been an honor to work with coach Hobbie over the last two years,” Gates said. “It’s rare that any school gets the privilege to have a great football coach, a great teacher and a great person. As a former student athlete, I know the impact that he has on our students is immeasurable. He leaves a legacy of winning the right way and doing what’s best for kids. His leadership on the field and on campus will be sorely missed.”
Support from administrators, parents and players is what the retiring coach appreciated most the past eight years.
“That’s what I’m going to take away from San Marino,” Hobbie said. “The relationships I’ve developed with players, parents and administrators. I felt extremely supported, professionally and personally. This community came to show me support when I had a difficult situation in the summer. It was just an outpouring of love. This is a place that takes care of their own people, even if they’re from the outside.”
San Marino resident Jon Crowley had two sons, Chip and Patrick, play under Hobbie and appreciated his “old-fashioned” style of coaching.
“He taught football for exactly what it is: A tough game, and a game which isn’t suitable for everyone,” Crowley wrote in an email. “His coaching principles — perseverance, teamwork and personal accountability — are timeless. His emphasis on playing through discomfort and management of pressure situations helped turn several high school programs around. It also prepared both Crowley boys well for both military life, as well as their collegiate football careers at a U.S. service academy. Playing for coach Hobbie wasn’t easy but it carried real value.”
Though Hobbie said he already has plans for retirement, he kept open the possibility of returning to the sidelines.
“I don’t rule out anything,” he said. “There are no ‘guarantees’ or ‘always.’”