Courtney to resign
“I just want to do what’s right for everyone concerned”
Before a game last season at Holton, a few Wildcats' fans sitting in the stands told Basehor-Linwood coach Bruce Courtney their off-the-court impressions of players under his direction.
"They said they were very impressed with how our kids looked and how they handled themselves," Courtney said. "They said, 'we're going to root for you guys tonight instead of our guys.'"
It's memories such as this that Courtney will take with him now that his tenure as head coach is coming to a close.
Courtney announced this week that he would resign as boys head basketball coach at Basehor-Linwood High School at the end of the season. It's a move Courtney, who's led the Bobcat program the last three seasons and served as assistant seven years before that, makes with a heavy heart.
The Bobcats have finished with a losing record the last three seasons and Courtney said its time to step aside and let someone else try to right the program.
"I just want to do what's right for everyone concerned," he said. "I think too much of these kids, this program and this school to let it go too far. I'm all about these guys and this school and I'll do whatever it takes to get it done.
"I don't know what someone else will do here but we wouldn't find out if I didn't step aside," he added.
Courtney informed players of his decision Sunday night.
"I just wanted to make sure they knew I don't hold any of them responsible," Courtney said. "None of them are the cause for making this decision."
The timing of the announcement -- the Bobcats have two games left this season and the sub-state tournament -- was Courtney's decision as was his decision to step aside. He said the administration has offered nothing but support during his coaching tenure.
"I didn't want anyone to think the school was getting rid of a coach," Courtney said. "I went to them. I walked right into Joe's (BLHS athletic director Joe Keeler) office and said this is what I want to do."
Keeler has only positive things to say about Courtney.
"We appreciate so much of what he's done," Keeler said. "He's worked with our basketball program for 10 years and he's a first-class person and an integral part of our staff."
BLHS principal Steve Blankenship, whose perspective on Courtney resembles that of his athletic director, said a search would begin for a new basketball coach in the coming weeks.
The high school administration is committed to having successful athletic programs in all areas, he said.
"We have a united administrative front committed to turning this thing around in academics and athletics," Blankenship said. "It takes a united effort. It doesn't happen overnight but we're going to make improvements as quickly as we can."
Courtney was hired in 2001 following the resignation of then-coach Dan Miller. Courtney had served as an assistant under Miller and former coach Don Hills before accepting the lead position.
His teams struggled the first two seasons, and things weren't getting better this year. For Courtney, who wants to win as much as any coach, the Bobcats' struggles proved difficult to bear.
"This season obviously has been rough and the way I care about these kids, the school and program, made it particularly rough," he said. "It bothered me tremendously that we were losing and it bothered the kids. I would be wide awake late at night just thinking about it."
Leaving the program is not an easy choice, he said, but it will allow him to spend more time with his family.
Although he won't be on the sidelines next season, Courtney said he will not leave Basehor-Linwood High School. He will remain at the school, pursuing what he thinks is the most satisfying aspect of being involved with students -- teaching.
"I'm too invested with the students here," Courtney said. "After spending time here, developing ties and bonds with people, I don't want to just up and walk away.
"I've always said I'm not trying to make a career of being a coach," he said. "I'm a teacher that coaches. Teaching is more important. The things important to these kids are academics and life lessons. That's more important than win-loss numbers."
Although his team has struggled, Courtney said he will always remember coaching players that never quit and for a school and community he's proud to be a part of.
"When I took this job, I said I wanted class acts to be a part of this program," he said. "That's just something I always felt was important. Not only do we want to win but we want to work hard and show good sportsmanship.
"When people here think of Basehor-Linwood, they think of good people and not a bunch of thugs. We did all of those things right. We just weren't getting the wins."