BY CHRIS DOBROWOLSKI
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — For the past 16 years Brett Graham has devoted himself to coaching varsity basketball.
But now he’s simply decided to spend more time with his family.
The Traverse City West boys basketball head coach resigned this week, ending an eight-year stretch as the Titans coach. That came after an eight-year run as the varsity head coach at Kalkaska.
“It was a gut-wrenching decision that I’ve been thinking about for awhile. I just recently came to the conclusion (to resign),” said Graham. “It was a family decision. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my wife and kids.”
West athletic director Patti Tibaldi learned about Graham’s decision on Sunday night via e-mail, then discussed it with him in person on Monday.
“Obviously, I was very surprised,” Tibaldi said. “He’s probably one of the hardest working coaches I’ve ever worked with. He’s been here eight years and it’s a lot of responsibility having two young kids. I get it, but it’s always hard to lose a good one. When he told me he said, ‘this is the best thing for me and my family.’ How can you argue with that?”
Graham, who won two conference and one district title during his tenure at West, estimates he’s been coaching for more than half his life, including early stints at the youth level. He has a record of 190-155 in 16 years, including 88-85 at West.
Graham informed his team of his decision on Monday and said the meeting went well.
“They were awesome and they were very supportive, but they were surprised,” he said. “They’re great young people. Hopefully, they didn’t feel like I was walking out on them.”
Tibaldi said the position has already been posted and will be for 10 days. She said she’s already received some interest and hopes to fill the vacancy as soon as possible.
“It would be great to fill it as soon as possible with all the summer stuff coming up,” she said. “But not until we find the right person.”
Tibaldi believes the West job is an enticing one, all things considered.
“Brett left the program in great shape. We have great facilities, great kids and a good group coming back,” she said. “How do I feel about it? It’s a great opportunity to coach in a wonderful system.”
Graham said he’s not sure what the future holds for him in terms of ever getting back into coaching, but he wouldn’t ever rule out getting back into the coaching ranks.
“I learned a long time ago that you never say never,” said Graham.