Paul Darling and Al Schieve beat the odds right down to the very end.
Few basketball coaches in the state can boast of being at their current school for at least 20 years. Darling and Schieve were in that select company. With 31 years under his belt with the Slinger boys, Schieve was the dean of area coaches. Darling, a baby in comparison, was head coach of the Waukesha South girls for 20 seasons.
What would be the chances that they would leave the profession at essentially the same time and do so on their own terms?
We all know those chances are slim.
Coaching for the long term is as hard as it’s ever been. If a coach isn’t getting burned out by growing demands of the job, he or she is getting pushed out before they’re ready to go.
Both men should take a bow for lasting so long.
But how do you know when the time is right? You just do.
“It’s something that I think every coach with children struggles with because you want to be around as much as you can and watch your children grow,” Darling said. “I’m five years away from having a daughter go off to college. That kind of gets to be breathtaking.”
Darling has 12- and 7-year-old daughters to think about. Schieve’s children are grown, so that wasn’t an issue. Why now? Being able to call the shot on his departure was definitely attractive to him, but it wasn’t like anyone was pushing him out the door.
“I retired from teaching five years ago and thought I was going to go out then and decided to hang in there a little bit longer,” he said. “Every year it was a year-to-year thing. I really didn’t put a time stamp on it.
“I enjoyed coaching the kids. Derek Sabin came along and I hadn’t gotten an opportunity to coach a Division I player before, so I looked forward to doing that. I’m not sure why this was the right time, it just seemed like the right time.”