Mitch Espeland wasn’t getting happy feet and he didn’t have wandering eyes on other football jobs across Wyoming. Instead, reality set in that with his wife’s impending graduation in May and the subsequent job search that had the two looking beyond Pinedale.
They both worked at Pinedale High School — her as a paraprofessional and him as a social studies teacher — but they’d need something more after her graduation.
“We were just looking for a perfect situation for the both of us and Cody offered her a job,” Mitch said. “They interviewed me and offered me a job. Kind of the best move for us.”
As a result, Espeland stepped down late last month as football coach at Pinedale. Jake Rich, activities director at Pinedale, told wyoming-football.com on Friday that he hopes to hire Espland’s successor by the end of April.
Pinedale went 10-15 in three seasons under Espeland. That included a 5-4 season in 2016 that ended with the Wranglers’ first playoff appearance after a seven-year drought. The Wranglers also had four individual all-state selections during those three seasons.
“I don’t think my record reflects the type of kids that we had,” he said. “It’s bittersweet to move on after three years. With a lot of credit to Allen Johnson, the head coach before me, I think we got Pinedale to a point where people wanted to play football and the community came to see the Wranglers do well. I don’t remember a game in the last three years when we didn’t have sold-out stands.”
Espeland served as an assistant for one year under Johnson before taking the program over.
So far, there have been no discussions about the former Pinedale head coach joining Matt McFadden’s staff at Cody, although Espeland would be open to that.
“I’d be pretty lucky to join them,” he said.
The Espeland family spent the weekend in Cody house hunting and further planning their next steps. Starting next academic year they’ll both be employed at Cody High School — counselor and social studies teacher, respectively. Up to this point the transition has been easy enough for the former football coach to remark that the most stressful part has been looking for a new daycare for their 1-year old son.
Rich stated that Espeland will be missed at Pinedale and extended his best wishes on the move to Cody. The decision to move on wasn’t easy but it was ultimately necessary.
“It’s sad to go, but it’s also exciting to come to Cody and do something new and different,” Espeland said. “We’re both really excited about this place.”