(CINCINNATI) - Andy Igel stepped down as boys basketball coach at Eastern Greene High School.
B.J. Hargis, of the Greene County Daily World, reports that after 16 seasons, 243 wins and five sectional championships, the Eastern Greene Board of School Trustees accepted Igel's resignation at its monthly meeting.
"After 16 years at one place, you start wondering when the end will come," said Igel. "I was beginning to think I was getting a little stale two or three years ago.
"When we got Levi (Carmichael) on board as U.S. History teacher to replace the retiring Phil Thompson, it became clear to me that this might be (near) the end," said Igel.
Last year, the board not only approved Carmichael as a teacher at EGHS, it made him the coach in waiting to replace Igel whenever he stepped down.
Igel said that having Carmichael, the school's all-time leading scorer and leader of that 2001 sectional and regional championship team, in place made a difficult decision easier.
"One of the reasons I feel comfortable with this decision was Levi," said Igel. "I know the program is in good hands moving forward and that means a lot to me."
Even with that, Igel did not come to this decision as easy as some might think or was it a foregone conclusion that the 1979 Washington Catholic graduate was going to step down after the 2011-12 season.
"I spent a lot of time on my knees," Igel said of praying about one of the biggest decisions of his life. "It was not until about midseason that I decided this would be it.
"I let the administration know so they could start making plans."
After losing seven seniors from the 2010-11 team that won 23 of 26 games, won the sectional and advanced to the regional title game, not many prognosticators thought the 2011-12 squad could come close to matching or exceeding those numbers, even with Division I recruit JT Yoho.
But when the season was done, Igel's last team shattered the record of 18 consecutive wins set by the 2001 team with 24 in a row.
The 24-2 record bettered last year's mark of 23-3 and the 23-2 record from 11 years ago. The Thunderbirds won the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference championship, something last year's team did not accomplish.
They won Igel's fifth sectional (2001, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012) title and again advanced to the regional championship game, before losing to Providence by three points on March 10.
"I had no idea that we would win 24 in a row and go to the final of the regional," said Igel, who only had three losing seasons at EGHS. "I knew that we had a really special group of seniors again."
Igel, who will be 52 in December, said he will remain in his role as dean of students at EGHS, but admits he still wants to coach.
"I still have a fire in me to coach," said Igel, whose teams achieved double-digit wins in 14 of 16 seasons.
"But my parents are getting older and they are not in the best of health and Diana's (his wife) mother is widowed. We make two or three trips to Daviess County a week. If the situation would present itself, we would like to be closer so it would be easier to help take care of them. But right now, I am planning to be dean of students and teach government and psychology here next year."
Igel, who said he is proud to have given his best every day as a teacher, coach and administrator over the past 16 years, said that he has been more than fortunate to have a lot of support at Eastern Greene.
"Even when we went 3-18 (2007-08), I felt like everyone was still behind me," he said. "I have been truly blessed to have had the players, parents, coaches, administrators and community be a part and support this program over the past 16 years.
"I would like to thank everyone that has been involved with our program here at Eastern Greene. You can't do something like this without the hard work and sacrifices of a lot of good people. I would like to mention all of my coaches, but I am afraid I would leave somebody out. They know who they are and hopefully they know how much their support has meant to me and my family. Where I end up eventually, I am not sure. But like 16 years ago, I put it in the good Lord's hands and he led me here. He will lead me to where he wants me to be."
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