LeWarne resigns as basketball coach
After the last game of the 2004-05 season, Moffat County boys basketball coach Mike LeWarne told his players, “For the first time in my life, things are more important than basketball,” but left it at that.
The third-year coach explained his statement Wednesday at the team’s first meeting since that 63-41 loss to Broomfield in the first round of the playoffs.
He informed his players that he had turned in his letter of resignation.
“It’s pretty simple, really,” he said. “I don’t have the same enthusiasm to coach at that level.”
The 1992 graduate of Moffat County High School was junior varsity coach in the girls program for seven years before he took over as the boys head coach in 2002. He finished with a 38-28 record.
“I don’t want to use the term burned out, because I still love the game,” he said. “But I had some decisions to make, and I went with my gut feeling.”
The gut feeling to resign had a lot to do with the sounds in the background of the phone conversation — his 5-month-old daughter, Elizabeth Katelyn LeWarne.
“Three years ago, I was as single as a single guy could be, and basketball was everything,” he said. “Today, I have a wife and a baby, and they were what made the difference.”
While putting family first chan-ged LeWarne’s perspective, the Bulldogs’ first losing record, 9-13, since he took over didn’t increase his affinity for the job.
“Coaching takes so much investment, the rewards of winning make it worth it,” he said. “When you don’t get the rewards it’s harder, but I don’t think that had a huge impact.”
What affectd him more was his inability to get away from basketball the times he was at home.
“I would come home and watch film or think about how to make us better,” he said. “Even when I was home, I wasn’t.”
With all of this year’s starters expected to return next year, LeWarne could have waited for one last hurrah. He would have a chance to coach a group of seniors that has been highly touted since they were in middle school and possibly win a Western Slope League title.
He thought the opposite.
“I wanted to leave the program with an opportunity for success,” he said. “That was important to me.”
Success or not, the Bulldogs certainly will see their former coach in the stands next year.
“I’m their biggest fan,” he said. “If it’s one of the best years we’ve had in school history next year, that would be great.”
The hardest part of resigning was leaving the students.
“It was hard to look them in the eyes and tell them,” he said. “To think that I’m not going to get a chance to be involved with kids like (junior) Derek Duran or (junior) Zach Haddan again made it harder.”
But he said he wouldn’t drop the word “never” about the prospects of coaching again.
“That word is used too much in sports,” he said. “But I’m going to take some time off, and it won’t be a short period of time.”
LeWarne will continue to work at Craig Middle School and coach middle school football.
When Elizabeth became more vocal about Dad paying too much attention to the phone and not to her, LeWarne summed up his decision before he hung up.
“We expect the best effort out of our athletes, and I couldn’t give my best effort because my mind wasn’t there all the time,” he said. “That wasn’t fair to anybody. I’ve always been honest with the guys, and I had to be honest with them and myself in this decision.”
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