Zach Shay has spent more than two decades coaching football across the country. He’s worked under respected minds such as Don Patterson, Mark Richt and Brian Kelly. He has had the opportunity to lead his own program on multiple occasions, including the past five years at Burlington High School.
Now the former Iowa football player is turning in the whistle to concentrate solely on administrative work.
The school board approved Shay becoming Bettendorf’s new activities director Monday night. He’ll begin his position July 1 with an annual salary of $105,120.
“I coached for 21 years, 15 at the Division I level, and selfishly I moved all over the country,” Shay said. “This is just a natural transition. I’m going to miss (coaching), so I’m going to find other ways to help fill the competitive spirit.
“It is time to just focus on facilitating and helping coaches in our athletic department have their own success.”
Shay replaces Colin Wikan, who stepped down this spring to become the dean of students at Pleasant Valley Junior High.
A defensive back in the Iowa football program from 1994-98, Shay has served as Burlington’s activities director and football coach since 2014. He was the athletic chairperson for the Mississippi Athletic Conference for one year and led the Grayhounds’ recent move to the Southeast Conference.
“At Burlington, we’re kind of rebuilding,” Shay said. “We had some great success in our first year and things are on the up-and-up. Bettendorf is established and has had a lot of success. Expectations are high.
“I’ve been on the biggest stages and Bettendorf is used to performing at the state championship level. My expectation is to facilitate and help those programs stay on that level. We want to be a program that is first, most and best.”
Shay, a Galesburg graduate, is married and has three daughters — Elle, 7; Teagan, 4; and Soran, 11 months. His brother, Beau, is a surgeon in Bettendorf and has three children.
After his playing career at Iowa, Shay had Division I coaching stints at Georgia, Western Illinois, Central Michigan, Alcorn State and Northern Colorado. He also was the defensive coordinator at Augustana College for a year before taking the position at Burlington.
He had the opportunity to glean insight from Richt at Georgia, Patterson at WIU and Kelly at Central Michigan.
“Coach Richt and coach Kelly, coupled with coach (Hayden) Fry, had a tremendous impact on my philosophy not only in football but athletics in general,” Shay said. “The one thing all three had in common was the well-being and growth of a student-athlete.”
The development of student-athletes and coaches will be his mission at Bettendorf, a program with 71 state championships in 17 sports.
"The combination of tradition, facilities, commitment to excellence and academic success at Bettendorf made it a very attractive position,” Shay said. “At the end of the day, it is about the student-athlete and how can we make the program better for them to keep climbing the ladder and keep excelling.”
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