HOUSTON — Saying he just felt it was time, Houston High School head boys basketball coach John Willoughby announced his resignation from the post this week.
Willoughby has been Houston’s head coach for the past 30 years, second in longevity in Shelby County only to Paul Bremigan’s 31 years at Russia, the most at one school in county history. Legendary coaches Bob Anderson of Anna and John Kremer of Fort Loramie both spent 26 years as the head coaches at their respective schools.
Willoughby takes with him 342 victories during his coaching career at Houston. He had a final overall record at the school of 342-334, including a 41-29 record in postseason play.
Two of his teams won the County championship, and he was runner-up in the conference six other times.
He led the Wildcats to six district championships and one regional title, which led to a state tournament appearance in 2011. In those six regional tournament appearances, his team lost to the eventual state champion three times.
Willoughby said Tuesday night that he has been thinking about his coaching future for a couple of years.
“I’ve thought about it for a while, but this year, it was time,” he said. “I don’t think I’m retiring from coaching, but I think it was time for me at Houston. I wasn’t putting the time in down in the lower grades. I didn’t spent as much time in the junior high and elementary as I used to.”
Willoughby is in his third year as the school’s athletic director, and says it’s a job he enjoys.
“Being the athletic director may have had something to do with my decision,” he said. “It takes a lot of time. But I feel good about it. I had a lot of energy doing that, supervising everything. With the help I got from Ryan Maier, Tina Mertz and Larry Claypool, it worked well.
“I like doing the AD job a lot, so I think maybe that made it easier to stop coaching,” he added.
Willoughby said he told his players Wednesday morning of his decision.
“That was a tough thing for me,” he said. “It was a tough decision. Some years you think you’ve had enough. And for some reason, the last few months of this season, I seemed to be closer to saying, ‘hey, this is it.’ And at the end of the season, when I started thinking about what I would say in my resignation letter, it came easy. So I thought, it must be time.”
He said he will miss being in the gym the most.
“I really liked the teaching aspect of it,” he said. “Coming in during the summer and doing the skill work. And I loved practices, all that time in the gym with the guys. Hopefully, they learned something from me, and hopefully I was a positive influence and touched their lives in a positive way. As a coach, that’s what you hope for.”
Willoughby wouldn’t go so far as to say he was retiring.
“Right now I don’t have anything, and I haven’t been looking for anything,” he said. “At some point, I might coach again, but right now I’m happy teaching and being the athletic director. Being the AD will fill some of that time. But if something opens up, I might look into it.”
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818