BEMIDJI - After 22 years as a coach and 10 years on the bench with the Bemidji High School boys varsity, Jeff Brown has decided that the time has come to retire.
"It's always difficult to make a decision like this," Brown said. "I've been coaching since I was 22 years old and I know I'm going to miss the kids and miss working with them. But this is something I felt I needed to do."
Brown leaves a program that appears to be on solid ground. This winter the Lumberjacks fell four points shy of advancing to the state tournament, losing 56-52 to Moorhead in the section title game.
"This was the right time to begin a new chapter in my life," Brown said. "I never wanted to leave with a program in a mess and I think our program, right now, is in very good position. We're competitive with the best teams in the state and I feel good about that.
"It takes a great deal of work and commitment to be competitive at this level," Brown continued. "And that commitment takes a toll on a coach and his family. But it has been very enjoyable."
Brown plans to remain busy and among his goals is to watch his son Mitch play for Eau Claire next winter.
"I want the freedom to be able watch Mitch compete at the next level," Brown said. "And I also would like to pursue other avenues in the education profession."
During Brown's tenure the Lumberjacks displayed steady progression and now the program is at the level where it can challenge the top teams in Minnesota.
"We've been able to increase the skill level of the players and, more importantly, we've instilled character and work ethic in the players," Brown said. "And that is something the entire staff can feel good about.
"My advice to whoever takes over is to stay the course," Brown continued. "I was here when we won eight or nine games but we kept focusing on what we wanted to do as a program. And that focus is taking hold.
"Will I miss coaching? Probably. Will I regret this decision? Only time will tell."