Silver Lake’s CJ Hamilton reflects on 47-year coaching career

Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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SILVER LAKE, Kan. (WIBW) - Silver Lake hired CJ Hamilton as their head football coach in 1973.

The Eagles didn’t know it at the time, but that day, they signed on the man who would become the all-time winningest high school football coach in Kansas history.

“I came right out of college,” Hamilton said. “The superintendent asked me, ‘Can you stick around for four or five years?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do that.’ And that’s how I got a job.”

Hamilton announced his retirement Monday after a 47-year career.

The Silver Lake-native tested the college coaching waters in 1977 and 1978 with Washburn. He then decided coaching high school kids — in life and in football — was where he was meant to be.

“Some of them that went on to college, they said, ‘The special years were those years,’” Hamilton said. “Or, ‘I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what I was, but I found a way to find it out through being associated with Silver Lake, in the community, in the program.’”

Hamilton wasn’t able to coach on the sidelines last season as he continues to fight an infection in his leg, and said now was the time to step down.

When asked his favorite memory from the last 47 years, he won’t mention the 447 wins, or the 39 Mid-East League titles, or even his eight state championships.

He says he’ll miss practice the most.

“The championships are for the kids and the community,” Hamilton said. “That’s not what drove me anyway. It was the interaction with my players, the interaction with even some kids who weren’t my players in the classroom. And that’s one of the reasons why I made the decision I made. It’s important to have that person, that connection, that tie for those kids to make contact with. So yeah, definitely practice was the best day.”

Hamilton’s legacy will live on through his players, the Silver Lake community, and in the stadium he spent so many hours: CJ Hamilton Field.

“I can’t tell you scores of a lot of our games,” he said. “But I remember the interactions with not only my players, the community and how they supported me and how they supported us in our journey.”

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