WINTHROP — As a football coach, Joel Stoneton knows the timing of his departure couldn’t be worse. Personally and professionally, he realizes it couldn’t be better.

Stoneton, 40, has resigned from coaching after 19 years with the Winthrop/Monmouth football program, the past 10 as head coach.

He signed a contract Wednesday morning to become athletic director and dean of students at Winthrop. Stoneton replaces Chris Moreau of Jay, who left after one year to take a job in Florida.

Four different ADs have served at Winthrop in the past 38 months.

“This will help bring some continuity to the position. I’m a Winthrop boy,” Stoneton said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

September will be shock to the system for Stoneton and Ramblers fans alike not to see him officially involved with the Winthrop football program. As a player and coach, he has been affiliated with the team for more than half his life.

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Since taking over in 2004, Stoneton led Winthrop to a winning percentage of .635. The Ramblers won the 2008 Class C West championship, losing a thriller to John Bapst in the state final.

“Obviously not being able to close the deal and bring a state championship as a head coach weighed heavily on my mind. Every coach wants that,” Stoneton said.

In 2013, Winthrop’s debut season as a cooperative program with Monmouth, the team went undefeated in the regular season before losing to Dirigo in the Class D West semifinals. Campbell Conference coaches named Stoneton coach of the year for the third time.

“It’s a decision I went back and forth on for days. I talked to a lot of people,” Stoneton said. “What it came down to was as a head coach, I haven’t been able to watch my daughters play sports. With this position I’ll get to do that and work with all the different teams and coaches and bring that sort of Rambler Pride to all the programs.”

Stoneton’s two daughters — Kelsey, 17, and Haley, 14 — are a junior and a freshman at Winthrop.

“It’s probably the song-and-dance you hear from everyone who steps away from coaching that they want to spend more time with their family, but it’s very true,” Stoneton said. “That’s the thing I don’t think people understand when they criticize on Friday night. This takes over your life. My season began with lifting in December. Once you get that ‘H’ on your hat, it’s your whole life if you want to be competitive, even if you’re losing.”

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Winthrop/Monmouth had more than 60 players turn out for the beginning of summer workouts.

Stoneton led a coaching staff of nine, so it is likely that his successor is already in-house.

“Maybe nobody on that staff will decide to apply, but I’m hoping they will. There are a couple who could step right in and lead the program,” he said. “The timing is not very good at all, but I can tell you we had a coaching staff that got along great with each other that did things off the field together and not because they had to but because they wanted to. Whoever takes over will have a great staff in place.”

In addition to guiding the program through a merger, Stoneton kept it competitive through trying times.

Several former players, including Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Lee St. Hilaire, committed suicide in the early 2000s.

The past decade has seen the school’s enrollment decrease by about 30 percent, ultimately leading to the combined venture with Monmouth, which hadn’t fielded a varsity football team since 1977.

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“Our community has been dealt with a lot of adversity and we’ve come through it together,” Stoneton said.

Once a coach, always a coach, Stoneton predicted he will be at the first day of football camp, easing the transition for whomever he hires as his replacement.

He also doesn’t rule out a return to the game in the future.

“Nobody knows what the future holds. Maybe someday,” he said. “I can’t imagine coaching anywhere else but Winthrop. It’s the best place in the world to coach football. Since I was a kid, there have always been two things people in Winthrop come out for: parades and football games.”


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