The decision wasn't an easy one for Mick Stefanek.
After 11 years as head basketball coach at Marian and a combined total of 17 years coaching in the Colts' program Stefanek recently decided to resign from the position.
"It was a number of little things," said Stefanek about his reason for stepping down. "It wasn't any one major thing, but when I added up all the little things I came to the conclusion that it was time.
"Part of the reason was my health. I lost 27 pounds last season. I was dealing with a lot of self-imposed stress. I put pressure on myself to win. We had a talented team that was suppose to win and I knew that. There was no outside pressure, It all came from within."
The Colts did win, compiling the best year of Stefanek's tenure. Marian went 23-6 this past season, capturing its third straight Schuylkill League Division title and its first District 11 championship since 1999.
"The program is in great shape," said Stefanek. "That is something that probably made this decision easier. I'm not bailing on the kids or the school. Whoever takes over the program will have a chance to do some nice things."
Stefanek will leave Marian as the school's all-time winningest coach. He finishes with a career record of 165-124. He passed legendary Colt coach Hugh "Wink" Gallagher's total of 149 wins during the past season. Stefanek led Marian to the District 11 playoffs in 10 of his 11 years at the helm. In four of those seasons the Colts advanced to the PIAA State Tournament, including this past season when they beat Millville in the opening round before being eliminated by Girard College.
"It's nice, but it was never a goal of mine," said Stefanek about the record. "When I look back on my time here, it will never be about the wins or the championships. It will be about the relationships that I was able to establish with the players I coached and all the great people associated with Marian High School. I've really enjoyed my 17 years here. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't extremely emotional when I think about all the great times I have had and all the outstanding people I've shared them with."
Stefanek had the second longest tenure of any current boys basketball coach in the TIMES NEWS coverage area. Only Pleasant Valley's Ken Piontkowski, who just completed his 12th year in charge of the Bears' program, has been coaching longer.
"I have had the pleasure of working for two outstanding people during my years at Marian [Principal] Sister Bernard Agnes and [Athletic Director] Stan Dakosty," said Stefanek. "I can't say enough about how well they have treated me and what great individuals they are. I couldn't have asked for a better situation than to have those two people as my bosses.
"I also want to thanks John Patton, who has been with me as an assistant for all 11 years I've been head coach, and all the other assistants I have had over the years. I've been blessed to have great people around me and they all played a huge role in those 165 victories."