NORTH WHITLEY – Phil Jensen has called for a handoff, this time to wife Debbie.

Jensen, most recently the head football coach at Whitko and formerly the longtime head coach at Warsaw, retired in late June from the sidelines again.

He’s also stepped down as workplace development coordinator at Whitko Career Academy.

“You’re always torn, but it was time, time for my family, time for my wife,” the 56-year-old Jensen said Tuesday by phone.

“My kids have grown up and moved away, and my wife is able to work remotely, and we just want to be able to travel and do things,” Jensen said. “She’s been a really good coach’s wife for 30 years and was ready for me to be done.”

Jensen’s 26-year-old daughter, Samantha, got married last summer and lives in Michigan. Son Michael, 22, is moving to Charleston, S.C.

Jensen returned to head coaching in 2019 after retiring at Warsaw following the 2017 season.

He inherited a Whitko program that had gone 1-19 over the previous two years.

His first Wildcat team closed 0-10, but last fall’s club surged to 4-6.

Chip Coldiron has since been hired to succeed Jensen.

“We made some nice progress, but this was never going to be a long-term thing,” Jensen said.

He says he was convinced to return to coaching by Brandon Penrod, then superintendent of Whitko Community Schools, and John Snyder, then principal at Whitko High.

Jensen already knew both men from their time together at Warsaw Community Schools.

“I told them I’d help for two or three years,” Jensen said of Penrod and Snyder, who have both since departed Whitko for other opportunities of their own.

Jensen coached Warsaw from 1996 to 2003 and again from 2008 to 2017, compiling a 104-85 record over 18 seasons.

When he first arrived, the program stood 0-11 all-time in sectional games. Jensen guided the Tigers to a 10-18 mark in sectional play.

His 2001 team went 10-1 — which remains Warsaw’s best record in terms of percentage since the 1964 club finished 10-0 — and won a school-record third straight Northern Lakes Conference title.

Jensen, who played at Penn High for Chris Geesman and at Butler University for Bill Lynch, arrived at Warsaw after starting his high school head coaching career with a 29-12 record across four years at Churubusco.

Overall, including the Whitko stint, he’s 137-113 in 24 seasons.

Any chance at all for a 25th season as a head coach, or maybe even going back to being an assistant?

“I’ve had several opportunities already presented to me,” Jensen said with a chuckle, “but I’ve vowed that I’ll wait at least a year before I even consider doing anything.”

The Jensens have sold their home in Warsaw and are living at their cottage off Lake Wawasee.

“It’s been a good ride,” Jensen said, “but I think I’m going to try retirement for real.”