No one deserves to go out on top more than Brookfield Central boys basketball coach Mark Adams.
Adams told his players Monday afternoon that he is stepping down after 14 years as a head coach and 26 years overall at the school.
The Lancers just finished the season 24-1, the best record in school history, but fell two victories short of going to the state tournament.
Adams' last game was a 77-74 loss in overtime March 6 in the WIAA sectional semifinal to Milwaukee King, who went on to the state tournament by beating Racine Case in the title game Saturday.
Adams talked about what made his last team so special.
"I told them all yesterday (Monday) they gave me the greatest commitment from any group I ever had. It was unbelievable. Their hard work in the program was as great as it's ever been.
"That is not a slam at my other teams. But these guys chose to do more. How well they bought into the system made them very coachable. It was as easy a transition as I could possibly ask for. They would walk into practice with smiles on faces and gravitate towards each other. The chemistry was tremendous."
And he especially focused on the seniors, saying their were great examples for the program, all the way down through the junior program.
Adams finished with a 242-90 record, an excellent .729 winning mark with two outright conference titles (2002-03, 2013-14) and two co-championships (2012-13, 2001-02).
He took the Lancers to the state tournament six times, in 2001 (0-1), 2002 (1-1), 2003 (0-1), 2006 (0-1), 2007 (0-1) and 2008 (1-1).
The past two years the Lancers didn't lose a home game (26-0) and were 44-5 (.898) overall.
Having the opportunity to work with him during his time at the helm has been a pleasure. And I'm not the only one who feels that way.
Dan Wandrey, the Lancers girls basketball coach, also had high praise for his boys counterpart.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Mark as a colleague over the last 14 years," he said. "He was always someone I could go to for advice on any situation."
Over the years Wauwatosa East was one of Adams biggest foes and he left an impression with Red Raiders coach Tim Arndorfer.
"Coach Adams has had a remarkable run at Brookfield Central," he said. "But beyond the success he had as a coach, he was also a great person.
"In good times or bad, he always had encouraging things to say to me. He has been a great role model to myself and other coaches in the conference. I wish him the best in retirement."
Todd Sobrilsky, Adams' boss, knows he is losing a great employee.
"What an honor it was to be his athletic director — for me to have the opportunity to be here the last four years and have worked with Mark," Sobrilsky said.
When Adams retired from teaching three years ago, he asked Sobrilsky what his thoughts were about staying on and coaching.
"I told him I'd love it," Sobrilsky said. "To me, those coaches who are successful put in the time. With all the free time he would have without teaching in the classroom, I would get twice the coach. He has always been so passionate and I will remember him like that."
Adams' dedication made him ask himself how long he could keep doing this.
"Halfway through the year I started thinking about it," Adams said. "My No. 1 thought was how much longer I had the energy to put the time that I put in. For 14 years my heart and soul went into basketball.
"When I retired (from teaching) it even intensified more. I have always been that way with myself, my coaches and players — leave no stone unturned."
Adams and his wife, Sue, talked about six weeks ago about his stepping down.
"We agreed I needed to listen to my heart," Adams said. "It's something that you listen to. I loved it to the bitter end. It was fun to the end."
Adams is most proud of the excitement about the program from third grade on up.
"The support that I've gotten from players, assistants, parents, the administration. It takes a total team effort to develop. It's not just about me."
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