By Kevin Eickman
After 14 years of roaming the sidelines, Milford Buccaneer head football coach Mike Tkach has resigned. Tkach will continue his roll as athletic director will the Milford School District.
The warm and caring Tkach served as more than a coach for a generation of Milford football players; he served as a mentor for Milford students who learned to expect more of themselves because of the guidance he provided. Make no mistake about it, when a coach is hired, it is an inevitability that he will be leaving some day. In the case of Mike Tkach, that legacy will contain the one thing no other Milford coach achieved, a Delaware State Championship.
Talking with Tkach about his time at Milford, while the championship was near the top of the list, it was not the thing he was most proud of. “Being able to coach the kids and being a positive influence in their lives was most important to me,” Tkach stated. “It was great to be able to instill a sense of pride and responsibility into a young man who might not otherwise have that type of influence in their lives.”
While a football coach, Tkach was first and foremost an educator. The fact that over 30 football players under his direction had the opportunity to play at the college level, indicates that students had to get it done in the classroom as well as the field. “I always made sure that my players understood the importance of their education,” commented Tkach.
The last three seasons have been tough ones for Milford as they posted a 7-23 record. There is a certainty when it comes to coaching, wins and losses count. “One thing a football coach knows is that at the end of the day you are judged by your record” said Tkach. “Over the last few years, our record hasn’t been where we wanted it to be.”
Discussing what he liked about coaching, Tkach responded “If you ever stopped to think about how much you are payed to coach football, you wouldn’t do it,” Tkach commented. “For me it was always about the kids, watching them mature over the years. I’ve seen so many graduate from college, I’ve been to their weddings and other milestones in their lives. You can’t put a price on that.”
Perhaps one person that knows Tkach best is Dr. David Carter, current Milford High School Principal. Dr. Carter joined Tkach’s coaching staff as a young 23 year old and was a huge part of the Milford program during its ascendency. “There were two things Mike has always been about, he was about impacting lives and teaching them the game of football, in that order,” stated Dr. Carter. “We developed a great friendship and chemistry together that allowed both of us to grow as both coaches and educators.”
During that magical championship run back in 2008, Tkach brought the Milford community together. Make no mistake about it, if you were at Delaware State University on that cold November night, Milford pride was on display for all to see. In front of a ravenous crowd, that Milford team pitched a 20-0 shutout against Laurel. As the games final seconds ticked away, the crowd was enveloped in a sea of joy and noise. It was the culmination of a long journey from perennial laughingstock to champions.
“There are times when I drive past the stadium I feel like I can still hear the echoes of that roar, said Tkach. Milford will always have Mike Tkach to thank for that glorious noise. That noise, and so much more.