When Is It Time To Step Down?

Why step down now?  I’ve been asked this question a lot over the past few days.  If you read the article in the Longview paper on Thursday, Feb. 25 then you know some of the details.  Consequently, I guess “When is it time to step down?” is as good of a topic as any in which to begin the Coach With A Purpose blog.

When I was a junior in high school, I knew I wanted to be a head basketball coach, but not just any head basketball coach.  I had only one school in mind, my alma mater, White Oak High School.  Fortunately, God had the same plan as I did and I will be forever grateful for this.  For 25 years, He allowed me to live my dream and I poured my heart and soul into it from the first day until the last day.

When I took the head coaching job at White Oak at the age of 25, I made two promises.  The first promise was to God.  My promise was that I would do my best to make it about more than just basketball.  That my competitive drive to win would never cloud my judgement or tempt me to lower our standards for short term success.  One of the things that I did to make me keep things in perspective was to never keep up with my career record.  When the newspaper or magazines would ask for career record, I would always leave it blank…I didn’t know what it was.  Now, let me interject here, this in no way is a criticism of coaches who keep up with their record.  This was just an accountability point for me as far as priorities.  I encourage each of you to come up with your own accountability points to keep your priorities in line.  This worked for me.  On Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, I calculated the won/loss record over my tenure at White Oak for the first time and I am proud of our success.  However, the number that I will always be most proud of is 111.  That’s the number of players who graduated from our program and it’s the number that God will hold me accountable for, not my won/loss record.  I feel secure in knowing that I gave everyone of those kids my best effort and that they would leave our program with a philosophy for their life.  They would leave knowing how to work hard, be self-discplined, understand the value of teamwork, and how to respond to adversity.  I did my best to honor the promise I made to God.

The second promise I made was to myself.  My goal each day, as far as basketball went, was to outwork every basketball coach in our classification….every single day!  I would do things (things I will discuss in later blog entries) that not everyone was willing to do to give us the greatest chance to win.  I would bring it every day!  However, I told myself when  the day came that I did not want to approach my job with this same passion, that I would step aside….for my sake and our kids sake.  It’s not easy to win anywhere and White Oak is no exception.  When the day came that I no longer looked forward to doing basketball camp, 4 nights of open gym during the off-season, 4 hours of Little Dribblers on Saturdays in Jan/Feb, team camps, hosting summer league games and tournaments, endless hours of scouting and workout preparation, and all the rest that I felt was necessary to win at White Oak, then I would step down.  That day has come and that’s why I’m stepping down.  I still have a burning desire to coach and to impact young lives….I just want to lighten the load a bit.  There’s no other reason.

I look forward to coaching in our Junior High this next year and I know God can still use me in His grand scheme of things.  So, to answer the question, when is it time to step down?  For me, it was when I knew I couldn’t give our program all that I think it deserved and I didn’t want to just hang on.  I hope my story gives each of you something to think about for yourself when it comes time for you to answer that question.  There’s not a blanket answer for everyone.  For me, it was being accountable to God, accountable to my players, and accountable to myself.

In the next blog entry, I will start a series of entries entitled “Building A Small School Program”….thanks for reading.

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