Dan Hinds, who has been head coach of the Desert Vista High School football program for 19 years, has announced his retirement.
Hinds confirmed his retirement to The Ahwatukee Foothills News Tuesday night. He informed Desert Vista Athletic Director and his coaching staff of his decision Tuesday afternoon, and his players shortly after the team banquet at night.
“I have mixed emotions because I’m sad and I love the game and love Desert Vista,” Hinds said. “I’ve been so fortunate to have such a great ride here. People don’t know how lucky I’ve been.
“It was time for me. I think I’ve taken the program about as far as I can take it. I love Desert Vista football so much and I want to give somebody else a chance to keep it rolling over here. I talked to my wife about it and thought a lot about it. It’s just the right thing for me to do right now.”
Hinds began coaching at Desert Vista when the school first opened under legendary coach Jim Rattay in 1997. An assistant at the time, it wasn’t until 2002 Hinds took over as head coach and remained in the position through the 2020 season.
In his 19 years, Hinds coached the Thunder to a 128-84 overall record, making the playoffs in all but six seasons. He led the Thunder to the semifinals of the playoffs four times and the state title game twice, defeating powerhouse Hamilton in 2011 – Desert Vista’s second state championship in program history.
Hinds’ most difficult year coaching the Thunder came during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Desert Vista, an already young team on a slight rebuild, battled through numerous injuries and was forced to cancel its game against Chandler due to COVID-19 reasons. The Thunder finished 0-6, their first ever winless season.
But despite the difficult year 2020 was, Hinds said there was never a dull moment.
“Just thinking back about all the great times I’ve had as a coach with all of these great players and with my coaching staff and great administrators like Tommy, great parents, I could go on and on,” Hinds said. “I’m going to miss it, I really am. But I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I’ve got a calling somewhere. When I get the call, I’m going to embrace it.”
Hinds, who is a business teacher at Desert Vista, will retain his teaching position and continue to help out with all programs in the athletic department. For now, he doesn’t see himself stepping back onto the football field as a coach.
The news was met with somber emotions from everyone involved with Hinds and the Desert Vista program. He said Eubanks asked him if “he was sure” several times Tuesday afternoon. Hinds believes some of his coaching staff, players and parents were still trying to process the announcement.
While he admits his decision was a difficult one, he feels it was the right time to step away. Most importantly, he remains happy he was able to do it on his own terms.
“I’m lucky because I’m going out on my own terms. Not every head football coach is able to say that,” Hinds said. “I’m so lucky that I get to go out happy. It wasn’t about longevity for me. It’s always been about what I can do for this program and these kids.
“Going out on my own term is all I ever wanted.”
Eubanks took to Twitter Tuesday night to thank Hinds for all he had done in his 19 years for Desert Vista. He shared a similar sentiment with the The Ahwatukee Foothills News.
“He was everything to this program,” Eubanks said. “How many thousands of kids came through while he was there? I can honestly say in the time I’ve known and worked with him, I’ve never received one complaint about him or his staff. That speaks volumes to the kind of man he is.”
Eubanks said the search for Desert Vista’s next head football coach will begin soon. However, it’s a process he wants to make sure isn’t rushed and is done the right way.
“It’s still pretty fresh,” Eubanks said. “First we have to get the posting up and go from there. I want to make sure we make the best hire for Desert Vista and this community.”