Tim Prendergast never really envisioned himself coaching girls basketball.
"I never paid much attention to the girls game," he says.
But when Jason Schaal decided to focus on being South Elgin's head softball coach, Prendergast decided to accept the challenge of building the Storm's fledgling girls basketball program.
Now, seven years later, Prendergast has decided to step down from the head coaching position of what has become one of the most competitive and respected programs in the area.
"I met with (South Elgin Athletic Director) Jason Ward on Monday and we both agreed that it was time for me to step down," Prendergast said Tuesday shortly after he had informed his team of his decision. "I have two young children who are getting heavily involved in sports and I feel like this is a good opportunity for me to get more involved with them.
"Coaching a varsity sport requires a lot of time and energy and there is no way I can balance the two. Your own kids only go through this once and I feel like I've been coaching everyone else's kids for 20 years now so why not spend some time coaching my children and other young kids."
Prendergast, 48, and his wife Jen have a 10-year old son, Will, and a 9-year old daughter, Ellie. Prendergast helped coach Will's Jacobs football feeder team this past season. The family lives in Algonquin.
A Forest View High School (Arlington Heights) and Illinois State University graduate who teaches driver's education and physical education at South Elgin, Prendergast went 111-89 in his seven seasons, winning two regional titles in the past three years. This past season the Storm was 20-10 and won a regional. They also tied for second place in the Upstate Eight Valley at 8-3.
"The program has come a long way the past seven years with two regional titles and 15 to 20 wins every year," Prendergast said. "I feel like the program is on the map and will continue to have success in the coming years. I was a little skeptical about coaching girls but having players like Alexa Kruel, Genevieve Johnson, Cortney Kumerow, Alyssa Krause, Becca Smith, Lania Robinson, Nell Wentling, Anna Tracy, Savanah Uveges and Kennede Miller, just to name a few, has made coaching girls just as enjoyable as coaching boys. I want to thank John O'Brien for giving me this opportunity and Jim Szymczak and Jason Ward for their support, as well as my assistant coaches, John Uveges, Mike Peacock and Dan Mandarnack and our athletic secretary Melinda Leman."
Prendergast doesn't step away without some emotion.
"It's tough to let it go," he said. "It's been fun. The cool thing has been developing relationships with the athletes and then seeing them come back and support the program and become successful at what they're doing.
"I never get emotional but this is killing me. It's hard. I was torn. I had one foot in and one foot out and that's not the way I want to coach. My own kids fell in love with the girls and they're taking it hard too. But this will give me an opportunity to do some other things and to coach my own kids."
And, he says, the coaching ranks may not have heard the last of him.
"I consider myself a coaching lifer," Prendergast said. "I see myself getting back into high school coaching at some point and I have no regrets at all."