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Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Westrick steps down as Flyers' boy's coach

By Gary R. Rasberry
MARIA STEIN - If there is one word to describe the head boy's basketball coaching position at Marion Local, longevity would be it.
Keith Westrick stepped down as the Flyers' boy's coach on Monday at the Marion Local Board of Education meeting, serving 14 years as mentor of the Blue and Gold - and as an assistant coach for several years before that - and being just the third head coach for the program since 1973.
"It's a good place to coach," said Westrick during a telephone interview on Monday morning. "You have good families, good athletes. It's a place where you know kids have good work ethics and will come ready to prepare to win."
Westrick admitted it was a tough decision to make.
"I'm still a little uncertain about it," Westrick said of the decision. "At some point, you can't coach forever. At that point in time, you have to move on to the next thing.
"It came down to the point where I had to think about the family a little more. ... It's become more of a time commitment thing," added Westrick.
Since taking over for Jack Albers in 1996, Westrick put together a strong program that saw the Flyers win three Midwest Athletic Conference titles, the 2004 Division IV state runner-up trophy and the school's second boy's state basketball title in 2003.
"The people you face in the league, coaches you face, are all great guys," said Westrick. "They're all going to be tough competitors, going to be prepared well. You know you're facing the best athletes in the area and facing teams that are well prepared, so you have to do the same thing.
"Anybody can tell you it's hard to get out of this area (in sectional and district tournaments). Sometimes it's refreshing to play other teams once you do get out of here."  
In 14 seasons as head coach, Westrick went 194-125, the second-most wins in Flyers history behind Albers' 290.
Westrick credits a veteran coaching staff, led by longtime junior varsity coach Bill Elking, for helping the program.
"I think that's the key. Most coaches will tell you that having people in those positions with longevity - Dan Koenig has been down in the eighth-grade program for years - you need them down there to teach and coach the same thing," said Westrick. "Matt Schmackers at the freshman level, Craig Wolters is a new face for us but dedicated to basketball and Bill being there for years, you know - especially with having short preseasons - makes it a lot easier to kind of know what you're putting in."
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