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After spending 17 of the past 21 seasons at Nampa High, it was going to take the right opportunity to make Bulldogs football coach Dan Holtry leave.

Holtry found that opportunity in the vice principal job at Vallivue High, his alma mater. He accepted the job last week.

“The Lombardi quote came to mind: ‘The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender,” Holtry said about leaving Nampa. “I put a 20+ years of teaching and coaching three different sports and a handful of subjects. … Long story short, it’s extremely difficult. Probably the hardest part of this decision was telling the coaches and telling the kids. It was an emotional day, for sure.”

Holtry had been at Nampa since 2001, save for four seasons when he coached under his brother, Matt Holtry, at Homedale.

After returning from Homedale in 2016, Holtry had spent the past six seasons as the Bulldogs’ head coach, turning a program which was struggling at the 5A classification into a 4A Southern Idaho Conference contender. The Bulldogs have been to the 4A state playoffs in each of the last four years with trips to the semifinals in 2018 and 19.

“We had a great time as a coaching staff,” said Holtry, who went 31-31 as a Nampa coach, including a 29-15 record since moving to 4A in 2018. “Our whole goal was to make the kids mentally and physically tougher, fight through adversity and see success. We had some very talented kids come through. We were put in the right classification at the right time. All those things fell together and we were able to see some success and we won some great games, some playoff games. I think in the last six years I’ve got a lifetime’s worth of memories.”

In his first stint at Nampa, from 2001-11, Holtry was the Bulldogs’ defensive line coach before taking over as the defensive coordinator in 2009 when Matt Holtry took the head coaching job at Homedale.

In 2009, Dan Holtry also received an administrative degree from Northwest Nazarene. Over the past 12 years, he has been a Nampa summer school administrator twice and did internships at West Middle and Willow Creek Elementary. He said a couple administrative positions had opened over the past few years that he considered pursuing, but getting an opportunity at a place as special to him as Vallivue proved too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“A lot of the mentors, coaches and teachers I had at Vallivue made that place special to me,” said Holtry, a 1996 graduate of the school. “When the opportunity to go back and be a Falcon again came open, it was something I was really excited about. It wasn’t what was focused on by me or the administration, they wanted to focus on the classification. But that’s what made it important.”

Nampa has opened the job internally, athletic director Greg Carpenter told the Idaho Press on Monday, with the aim of having Holtry’s replacement named this week. With the start of practice less than two months away, Carpenter said the focus is on keeping the current coaching staff intact and trying to keep the summer workout programs running as smoothly as possible.

“It would be another 2-3 weeks before we get another coach into place,” Carpenter said. “That would be midway through July.”

Nampa will be moving back to the 5A classification this season.

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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