ATWATER -- John Kane has resigned as the Atwater High boys basketball coach after nearly two decades of service, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon.
Kane had been a part of the program for the last 17 years -- the last 12 of which have been spent as the varsity head coach. He informed athletic director Roddy Svendsen of his decision on Tuesday, citing that he'd like to spend more time with his young family.
Atwater enjoyed its best season in recent memory this season, finishing with a 10-15 record and key victories over playoff teams Pitman and Escalon. In the previous five seasons, Atwater was 29-98 and averaged less than six wins a season.
"I was here when John got hired, and in all my dealing with John Kane I've always known him to be an ultimate man of integrity and honesty," Svendsen said. "When John Kane tells you something, you can take it to the bank. As far as my experiences with him, it's been nothing but fantastic."
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Svendsen said this decision didn't come easily.
"It leaves a hole in our athletic department and we'll have to go to work to fill it," Svendsen said. "But I understand completely. He has young kids at home and he wants to grow up with them. It's not unusual. This wasn't an easy decision. This was something he struggled with."
The search for Kane's replacement will start soon, Svendsen said.
The Atwater athletic department and the Merced Union High Schools District will collaborate on the search, which will likely start within the district.
"There's a district policy that we're required to follow. It's a process that we're all involved in," Svendsen said. "I'll work with the administration and we'll take a look at this as soon as we can. We don't want to sit around."
Kane's legacy won't be measured by wins or losses, tournament trophies or league championships, Svendsen said, adding that those close to Kane and his program will remember his passion for the game and attention to its principles.
"His goal for the kids was getting them to have a healthy respect for the game of basketball," Svendsen said. "He was always happy when they could play the game well. He was very successful in achieving that over the years."
James Burns is managing editor/sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.