Lely basketball coach Don Stewart stepped down after 26 years. Stewart was almost awe struck by the reactions to his announcement by friends, foes alike. Watch »
Lely’s Don Stewart, shocked the area basketball world with his announcement on Monday that he was retiring after 26 years. It was a very tough decision for him, but he decided it was time to spend more time with his family and grandchildren. The Eagle asked him on Wednesday to write about how he felt and about the responses that poured in after the announcement was made.
I did not anticipate the emotion that would come over me when I announced in front of my current players that I would be stepping down after 26 years as coach.
The look on their faces, the thought of 26 years and now its over, was overwhelming.
I have to admit I was near tears, but I felt a lot better after they began to applaud and file out. Many came up and shook my hand, or gave me a pat on the back.
Parker Ayers, in his typical humorous way, said, “Are you going to be alright big guy.”
Then all the regular students in my class came up and started talking about it and we made it kind of humorous so that helped a lot
The e-mails and phone calls I have been receiving from my old players and fellow coaches, and referees, have been very touching and complimentary. One never knows the impact you might have on a person’s life until after you complete the journey.
For me, coaching has always been a privilege that I did not take for granted. I had great coaches growing up and in college so I felt that I owed it to those I encountered to give them a great experience.
I have also been pleasantly surprised by the number of people and players that went to other schools and the kind remarks they have made about their association with me through competition or going to my camps.
I went home last night after going to Hannah’s track meet to see my wife looking at her laptop and tears in her eyes saying, “You need to read all the blogs in the paper about the article.” She read me some and it was very touching.
I am blessed and I know it. I have been able to do something that I love, all the while having my son’s involved with me (as players) and the support of my wife and family. I thank God for that opportunity and hope to continue in another capacity, helping young people.