HOBART — After four decades, Bill Dalke's football career has come full circle.
Dalke's last football game as a Hobart Bearcat was in the fall of 1972, and this September, he'll take the field — Phil Dalke Field, named for his father who coached him in high school — at Hobart as the team's head coach.
“I'm excited to be in Oklahoma again, and excited to be in my hometown,” said Dalke, who has been coaching in Texas since 1999. “My father won state championships in football and wrestling.
“This school has had a great tradition in athletics, and it's fallen off a little bit, but we're hoping we can restore things back the way they used to be and the way they ought to be.”
Hobart was 5-5 last year, and though he didn't get to spend a lot of time with the players in spring practice, Dalke has been excited with what he's seen.
“We've got our summer program going right now and we're pretty excited about our prospects,” he said. “We've got some team speed and I like the looks of some of the kids we've got up front.”
Dalke's career has taken an interesting path since his Bearcat playing days.
He is best known around the state for playing linebacker at Oklahoma during the 1974-75 national championship seasons.
After his playing career ended at OU, he took a coaching job in Altus, but spent only one season there. He joined former OU assistant Donnie Duncan when Duncan was hired at Iowa State.
They worked together there for three years after which, Dalke left football and moved to Dallas to work in sales.
That only lasted a few years, until football began calling again. He took a job in Fox, and not long after, landed on Rene Huckaba's staff at Yukon.
He stayed with the Millers through two coaching changes, working his way up to defensive coordinator when Mike Little was hired in 1992.
When Little retired in 1995, Dalke moved into the head coaching role. In his third season, Dalke guided the Millers to the state championship game, losing to Jenks.
After the 1999 season, he left to become the head coach at Burkburnett, Texas, where he stayed for 10 years.
Dalke spent the last three seasons at Frisco (Texas) Centennial as a defensive line coach, serving enough time to retire from teaching in Texas.
And when the opportunity to coach his alma mater became available, he couldn't turn it down.
“A few years ago, the superintendent in Hobart asked me to come back and coach there, but I told him then, in two or three more years, I'd be able to retire in Texas and I'd love to have an opportunity to come back and coach the Bearcats,” Dalke said. “I'm extremely glad to be back in Hobart. We had it great growing up here, and we're real proud of this community, and excited to be a part of things here.”
Dalke's mother, Barbara, still lives in Hobart, and that adds some comfort for everyone involved.
“She's almost 80,” Dalke said. “My brother and I had tried to get her to come live closer to us, but I don't think we could dynamite her out of Hobart. Now I'll be able to be here with her, so in a lot of ways, this has been a good move for us.”