The raw emotions began spreading across the face of Stevens Point Area Senior High girls basketball coach Dave Hauser when the final horn sounded March 1.
Part of the reason he appeared to be choking back tears could probably be traced to seeing a remarkable season, spearheaded by a determined senior class which included his daughter Nicki, come to such an abrupt end in a WIAA Division 1 regional loss to Neenah.
Then again, Hauser may have been dealing with another realization. The idea that he may have coached his last game for the Panthers.
Hauser recently resigned as the SPASH basketball coach after six seasons.
“I had a conversation with my wife, not the athletic director, going into the season that the way the (basketball) schedules play out, that maybe it was time,” said Hauser of a talk with Stephanie Hauser, who is not only his wife but the school’s AD. “I had a front row seat for my daughter’s basketball career, and I’d like to see my sons (Sam and Joey) now throughout their careers.”
Sam just finished his freshman season on the SPASH varsity, while Joey while be in 8th grade next year.
Dave Hauser was torn over the decision, but in the end the chance to watch his sons throughout their high school athletic careers won the emotional tug-of-war over the choice.
“No question it was a tough decision because of the opportunity this (school) district gave me six years ago. I had a great situation and I had a great experience with the whole process,” Dave said. “It’s like the old cliche, but I need to spend more time with my family. With the boys coming up, it had some bearing on it (the decision).”
Hauser was unable to remember what his record was with the Panthers.
Overall wins and losses aside, he did lead SPASH to back-to-back Wisconsin Valley Conference championships, including a share of the title with Wausau West this past season at 10-2. The Panthers finished 17-6 overall.
Having the chance to coach her daughter over the course of her high school career is one of many special memories Hauser, who coached boys basketball for 15 years prior to taking the SPASH job, will take from his tenure on the SPASH bench.
“I think when you coach you’re own children, you do your best job all the time, but with them you give a little bit extra. I thought Nicki handled being coached by me, and what comes with having a parent as their coach, awesome,” Hauser said. “As a coach there is an attachment with a daughter in the program and those other seniors who took Nicki in when we moved here.”
Spending six years coaching girls basketball also opened his eyes, he said.
“I learned a heck of a lot about basketball and myself coach the girls, and that’s not to be derogatory or demeaning in any way,” Hauser said. “Coaching the girls made me a better coach. I felt a lot of passion and compassion for our team, and they brought a lot of good things out of me.”
And for his part, Hauser left the SPASH program in really good shape.
He feels the time is right for someone else to take over the reigns and take the Panthers to the next level.
“We all, and I’m talking about the youth coaches, parents, athletic director and administrators put a lot of time in so it worked. A lot of people were involved to get us back to where girls basketball is respected at SPASH,” Hauser said. “Now it’s time for someone else to come in and put their name on it and run with it.”