After nearly two decades coaching at his alma mater, Doug Cheeseman said it was time to say goodbye.
Cheeseman, 54, made it official a couple weeks ago to step away as head coach of the Burlington High School girls basketball team, a decision he had planned at the start of this season, his 17th.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s completely my decision,” Cheeseman said. “I’ve truly enjoyed it and I’ve never been to a game or practice I didn’t want to be at.”
A 1978 BHS graduate who also played basketball at Champlain College, Cheeseman returned to Burlington as an assistant with the boys program before taking over the girls varsity squad in the 1990s.
Prior to Cheeseman’s arrival, the Seahorses had only four semifinal appearances — plus the program’s only two titles, in 1974 and 1975. In Cheeseman’s tenure, BHS made six trips to the final four — albeit with no finals appearances — and won at least 15 games seven times. BHS also won a program-best 20 games in the 2009-2010 season.
Cheeseman coached a bevy of talented players, including Sharmion Selman, the program’s lone recipient of the Free Press’ Miss Basketball award.
“I’m going to miss it tremendously. I’ll the miss the competition, I’ll miss the kids — I think the world of the kids,” Cheeseman said. “It’s the only place I’ve coached but I just felt it was time.”
Cheeseman, who owns two local insurance agencies, said he wants to spend more time with his wife in Florida, where the couple owns a beachfront condominium.
“As you get older you realize things aren’t forever and you realize there are other things to do,” Cheeseman said.
The Seahorses went 11-11 this winter, losing to Rice in the Division I quarterfinals to conclude a season crushed by injuries to key players like Kaitlin Garrison (lost in preseason) and Ajla Medic.
A search for a replacement will begin shortly, Cheeseman said.