FOWLERVILLE — Fowlerville football head coach Bret Shrader, boys basketball coach Fred Hackett and girls basketball coach Nick Douglass have resigned from their respective positions, Fowlerville athletic director Brian Osborn has told the Livingston Daily.
“There were discussions with the coaches throughout the year,” said Osborn, who added that the three made it official in early May. “(It had to do with) family. They all … got kids that are highly involved in athletics and other situations.”
Osborn continued on, stating that the decision from his trio of coaches wasn’t necessarily a shock, but he had hoped they would change their minds.
“Obviously, you hope that you can convince them to stick around a couple more years,” Osborn said. “But then you start asking those questions, and you’re asking them to compromise things they want to do with their families. That’s not what we’re about.”
Shrader leaves his post as the head of the football program following six seasons, the latest of which was perhaps his most successful. Under Shrader, the Gladiators went 7-3 in 2016 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
With arguably his most talented senior class, Shrader turned around a team that had won 10 total games (10-35) in its past five seasons. He manufactured an offense that averaged 26.2 points per game, by far the highest mark since 2009, while also possessing a defense that held opponents to their lowest total (204) since that same year.
Shrader called it a “brutal, brutal decision” on Tuesday.
“The main reason is because I have three boys … and they are very, very active, which I love,” Shrader said. “I love being with them, coaching them, watching them. But I found that as they were getting older, it was pulling me away from the program more and more, mainly in the offseason.
“I wasn’t at as much stuff as I used to be at, and I believe a head coach needs to be there at 99 percent of everything. … So I had this personal guilt feeling, and a lot of sleepless nights. I honestly felt this was best for the program. The players deserve a head coach that’s going to be there 99 percent of the time and commit everything to it, because that’s what I ask from them as players.”
Hackett departs from Fowlerville after 15 years as the boys basketball coach.
Of the three, he was by far the longest-tenured on staff, having put more than a decade into coaching the varsity boys hoops team. Hackett also cited family reasons, as he has four young children ranging from ages of 2-10.
“It was extremely difficult. It’s been my passion,” Hackett said. “I poured a lot into it the last 15 years. But at the same time, I know it was the right decision. … Ultimately, it comes down to one thing: family. Coaching requires a lot of effort, energy, time and thought, and it became too hard to be a good coach and be a good dad at home. I made the right choice to be home more.”
Douglass, meanwhile, resigns following two of the Gladiators’ best years in recent memory.
When Douglass took over in 2016, the Gladiators had won just four games the season prior. They went 13-8 in his first season. In 2017, he led a group of mostly underclassmen to 15 wins — they went 15-7 on the year — and to their first appearance in the district finals since 2010.
Douglass was 28-15 overall in his two seasons.
“There were influences and circumstances out of my control,” Douglass said. “In addition, the opportunity to focus on my family, which is my No. 1 most important factor.
“I wish the kids great. It’s a great group of kids. They’re fun to work with and I wish them all the best of luck.”
Asked how his players took it, Douglass simply said: “As you would expect.”
“It wasn’t a shock, but I didn’t know (it was coming),” Fowlerville sophomore forward Elie Smith said. “Whenever a coach has kids, it’s always a possibility. Like, Mr. Hackett and Mr. Shrader, it’s pretty much the same thing with them. I get it. It’s a shame, but I understand.
“But I am excited to look forward, though. And whoever does come in is going to have a lot of talent on their hands. We’ve got a good eighth-grade class coming in, so whatever coach gets the job is going to be in a good spot.”
The search to fill those vacancies is ongoing, Osborn said, and added that he continues to do research on potential candidates.
He hopes to have all three positions filled by June 1.