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Tomlin, Longtime Accomplished Islander Football Coach, to Retire

Coach Tomlin speaking to kneeling GISH Football team after a state football playoff game

November 20th, 2023

A tradition of excellence – it’s a motto that describes Islander activities and athletics, but it also describes Jeff Tomlin’s career.

After leading an esteemed football program at Grand Island Senior High (GISH) since 2003, Tomlin has decided he is ready for retirement

“Serving as the head coach at Senior High has been one of the great honors of my life and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have had,” Coach Tomlin said.

During his 21 years (148-74) coaching football at GISH, the Islanders earned 18 playoff wins, including State Runner-Up in 2018, four district championships, and six Heartland Athletic Conference championships. The Islanders have also journeyed to the state playoffs for the last six consecutive years earning at least one win in each of those runs.

In addition to head football coach, Tomlin also serves as a physical education and social studies teacher, weight training coach and boys track assistant coach at GISH, where he will finish out the 2023-2024 school year.

Hundreds of students and staff have benefitted from his leadership both in the classroom and on the field. 

Cindy Wells, GISH Activities Director, saluted Coach Tomlin’s impact and legacy.

“Coach Tomlin is an all-time great.” Wells shared, “He is legendary, and a master of helping young men, coaches and teams reach their maximum potential. Coach T got the most out of his players. Not only did he make them better football players — he made them better men off the field. His model of consistency through and through is just unbelievable.  He will definitely be missed and we wish only the best for him in his retirement.”

Prior to his tenure at GISH, Tomlin coached at O’Neill High School and Alliance High School. 

In total, Tomlin’s career spans 37 years. Tomlin has earned multiple awards, including: 2014 Grand Island Independent Boys Coach of the Year; 2013 and 2018 Coach Mike Behrens Award Winner (Huskerland Prep); 2016 Semper Fi Coach of the Year awarded by the US Marine Corps.; 2018 Nebraska Coaches Association Football Coach of the Year; and 2019 NFHS State Football Coach of the Year.

Maria & Jeff Tomlin smiling with arms open about to hug after a State Football playoff game

Tomlin said he will always be bound to the Islanders, as they hold a special place in his heart.

“I wish to thank all of the young men that I have had the distinct honor and privilege to coach, for your hard work, commitment, and loyalty,” he said. “The Islander Football Brotherhood will continue to bind us together,” Tomlin said.

He recognizes a tradition of excellence isn’t built alone. Besides players, Tomlin has carried a profound impact on hundreds of fellow coaches, families, and the Grand Island community as a whole. 

“I want to thank an incredible coaching staff of dedicated men that I have been privileged to serve with over my 21-year tenure, and I want to thank my wonderful family for their unconditional support,” Tomlin said. 

“Thank you to the Grand Island Public Schools administration for allowing me the opportunity to lead the program, and to the Islander Booster Club and the GI Football Touchdown Club for their tremendous support and hard work on behalf of our kids,” he said. “Finally, thanks to the incredible families I have had the opportunity to work with, and a heartfelt thank you to the community of Grand Island for your support. I will be forever grateful.”

As for the head coach position, Coach Tomlin leaves big shoes to fill.  The district plans to list the open position and begin the search for the next bold leader of the Islander Football program.

Thank you, Coach Tomlin, for your dedication to the tradition of excellence and developing the next generation of strong leaders. You leave behind an incredible legacy through the positive impact you have made in the lives of our students, families, and staff!

Listen to Coach Tomlin's retirement interview on "The GIPS Cast" podcast here

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