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Steve Weemer, who concluded his eighth season coaching Waubonsie Valley boys varsity basketball in the regional finals on March 1, has stepped down as head coach.
Weemer, who went 134-91 with regional titles in 2007 and 2008 at Waubonsie, desires to move into administration, particularly in athletics, as well as spend more time with young children Payton, 8, and Luke, 5. He said he's nearly completed his Type 75 Administrative Certification.
"To tell you the truth, I wanted to go out with a good group of kids," said Weemer, 42. Also a Waubonsie drivers education instructor who plans on returning in that capacity, Weemer tendered his resignation and told the team on Monday.
"This senior class was a good group of kids, I thoroughly enjoyed them. I wanted to have a successful season, go out on my terms, not on someone else's terms. I felt like it was the right time for me and the right decision," he said. "I'm going to look at other opportunities now. It's been 20 years (coaching), it's time to look at other opportunities now ... I did not get out because we lost our last game, I did not get out because of whatever. I got out because it was the right time and I want to get out and pursue other things."
Weemer said he made the decision before this basketball season, in which the Warriors finished 21-8, 8-4 and tied for third in the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division.
"I told my wife (Megan), I think this is it for me," Weemer said.
Metea Valley coach Bob Vozza said Weemer offered help when needed and had passion that rubbed off on his players and could be seen on the court.
"I got to know him over the years playing against him when I was at Neuqua Valley," Vozza said. "He's always been very good to me and it was always a challenge to play against him. His teams were always ready to play, and you always had to be ready for a challenge.
"It's sad to see him go, sad to see friends get out of it," Vozza said.
A tall, friendly and homespun Tuscola native who lives in Aurora, as a high school senior Weemer was MVP and third-team all-stater for a basketball team (also the Warriors) that reached the Class A Elite Eight in 1989. After two years at Eureka College out of high school Weemer transferred to Eastern Illinois University, and was a member of the Panthers' 1992 NCAA Tournament team.
He graduated from Eastern in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in education. His first coaching job was at PORTA, two as an assistant and two as head coach with a record of 22-34. He returned to Eastern Illinois as an assistant to Rich Samuels for seven years before arriving at Waubonsie Valley to succeed Dave Saurbaugh as Waubonsie Valley's head coach beginning in the 2005-06 season. As well as earning a masters in education from Eastern, he was on the staff when the Panthers reached the NCAA Tournament in 2001.
"He was a great mentor," Weemer said of Samuels. "I learned a lot from him. A lot of the things I learned from him I carried over and used at Waubonsie."
Waubonsie Valley athletic director Mike Rogowski said the basketball position has been put on the Indian Prairie District 204 website, and he will accept candidate emails. Rogowski said Weemer plans to return to teach, "but I know he's going to start exploring athletic director jobs pretty quick."
"He did an outstanding job with the team," Rogowski said. "It's that time in his career where he's ready for another challenge."
Weemer, clad on game days in shades of Waubonsie green including sport jackets and ties often loosened or discarded in tight contests, said his highlight on the court was the consecutive regional titles of 2007-08, but mainly the relationships built with program coaches Matt Blue, Phil Galow, Nick Daniels, Isaiah Davis and Jimmy Jacobs. He also thanked Rogowski and Waubonsie administration.
"It's not always about wins and losses," Weemer said. "It's about developing relationships and friendships and the lifelong memories that you make. Those things mean so much to me and my family."
Weemer said this season's senior group including Dylan Warden, Bryan Jefferson, Tavares Stewart, Gary Sutton, Erick Cepeda and Jared Brownridge was a good group to go out with, "fun off the court."
"Hopefully you impacted their life in a positive way," Weemer said. "That's why you get into coaching. You don't get into it for the money. You bring young boys in as freshmen and they leave as young men. If you did impact their lives, that's what you hope you can do. I hope I did that -- not only impact their lives in the game of basketball but also the game of life, which is the bigger picture."
Now there's more time to impact his own sons.
"It'll be nice to spend time with them and watch and help coach them," Weemer said. "To be an assistant coach of a 10-year-old team, that's going to be a lot of fun."