Schultz stepping down
HARRIS – As a coach, it’s never been about wins and losses for Joel Schultz. As a father, it’s now about his family.
Schultz tendered his resignation as Bark River-Harris varsity girls basketball coach earlier this week after eight seasons with the Broncos, citing family as his primary reason.
“I evaluated whether I wanted to continue coaching when my daughter (Katie Schultz) joined the team. I decided to do that. Now my son (an incoming freshman) is going to be playing next year,” Schultz said Thursday.
“I made my boy’s games this season, but I hardly remember them. I want to have dinner with my wife and enjoy the game. As much as I’m in the gym, it’s hardly ever about my kids.”
Schultz has had a remarkable run of success at Bark River-Harris, developing athletes and getting the most out of them.
His career record with the Broncos is 135-54 (.714 win percentage), leading the team to their first regional title and a Class D state title game appearance in 2011.
However, Schultz said that’s not how he wants to be remembered.
“If someone wanted to define my career for me, they wouldn’t do it with wins, or who scored how many points, but with how we conducted ourselves, the work put in and the people associated with the program,” he said. “Going back to my time at Engadine, the successful ladies I’ve been involved with learned to be hard workers, set goals and achieve those things.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to define my career by coaching wins. We had some better efforts in years where I didn’t win so much. This year we had young kids and we had challenges. Kids had to learn what’s important, and they did. I love to win, I started as a guy that wanted to win at all costs, but over the years I’m seeing how that approach affected different kids. I like winning, but it’s not the priority. Some of the more successful points of the year might be what some view as bad losses, but it helped us.”
Athletic director Nick Nolde said he understands Schultz’s decision but said the program will miss having him on the sidelines.
“I absolutely hate losing him, but I understand his decision for his family and personal reasons, Nolde said. “Not only was he obviously a great coach, he taught these girls about life, not just basketball, and that’s what we want in school personnel.
“His record certainly speaks for itself. As far as basketball goes, he was demanding, but at the same time, he was always able to push the girls further than they thought they could go, which is one of the jobs a coach has to do, and he was very good about doing that.”
Schultz said the decision was a long time in the making and the Broncos recent season in which they went 13-8 with a loss to Mid Peninsula in the district quarterfinal did not factor into it.
“It’s something that’s important to me, so nobody thinks I got frustrated – I think this group of girls will be phenomenal. It’s good timing; whoever comes in is going to win. These are good character kids that have learned very valuable lessons,” Schultz said.
Schultz began his career at Engadine, where he transformed a program that had won eight games in six years into a Class D powerhouse that played at the Breslin Center.
“When I left Engadine, I left in similar circumstances,” said Schultz. “I resigned because I was driving from Esky to Engadine for practice and personal reasons. It’s hard to leave, you get invested, everything is always building, you’re never done.
“I’m appreciative of my time at Engadine. They hired me with zero experience and backed me. I got experience in a tough environment and that allowed me to learn.”
When Schultz came to Bark River-Harris for the start of the 2006 season, the program wasn’t in dire straits, having gone 11-11 in 2005 and 17-5 in 2004, but he implemented a culture change that transformed the program into the Class D state power it is today.
“What I’m proud of, is we have a basketball culture. We have third and fourth grade girls around the gym, travel teams, good junior high coaches. The program is in place and kids are coming through,” said Schultz.
Schultz’s 2010-11 team made the Final Four and went to the Breslin Center, but the veteran coach measured the following year’s squad as being his best.
“If you look at those state title-game kids, they had a good foundation and were good character kids that helped and complimented each other. It happened for them, but that wasn’t the best team I had,” he said. “Next year was probably a better team. Making those runs takes way more than just having kids dribbling and shooting. (2011-12) was anchored in the right things. They only had one loss in the regular season and lost by three to Forest Park (with Jamie Madalinski nursing a hurt ankle in that game). In my belief, they were better.
“With that said, that team overachieved more and accomplished more with less, which is probably the ultimate success. It’s nice that I have that in my portfolio, but I would really hate to be defined by that. It makes it too simple.”
Though Schultz is stepping down, he is leaving the door open to return to coaching in the future.
“I love coaching, it’s not that I want to quit, it’s just what I need to do,” Schultz said. “I’m talking to the school and I hope to be involved with the program at some level, even come back to it at some point. I think when I want to go back to coaching, I probably can. It’s going to be centered around my kids as to when I get that time again.
“I just want to show my appreciation to the communities for the opportunity they’ve given me. I’ve learned every bit that I’ve taught. Bark River has been awesome to me. Everyone my whole career has been good to me.”
Nolde said the position will soon be posted internally.