O’Hare steps down from MHS girls basketball

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown girls basketball coach Stacy O’Hare awaits her team on the sideline for a timeout during their regional game against Southeast Polk on Saturday in Pleasant Hill.

Stacy O’Hare told her team in the afternoon and informed her Facebook friends Monday night that she was resigning as the Marshalltown High School head girls basketball coach.

She made the decision more than a year ago.

O’Hare, a 1992 MHS graduate, officially stepped down from her coaching position with Monday’s school board meeting, but she said she knew this day had been coming since her mother, Gwen Graw, passed away on Dec. 30, 2017.

“This way I can spend more time with my family,” O’Hare said. “After last year when my mom passed away, I realized it’s been how many years since I’ve been able to do anything but basketball over Christmas break.”

O’Hare cedes the position in Marshalltown after six years at the helm of the Bobcat girls’ basketball program, one that she is a proud former member of, and 20 years all told coaching basketball. She was an assistant to Al Jones at BCLUW for two years before taking the head job for 11 seasons, and spent one year as the MHS freshman girls coach before taking the reins of the Bobcat varsity squad in 2013.

“I’ve been coaching since 1999 and before that I lived basketball,” said O’Hare. “I’ve been in a gym all my life.”

“I left BCLUW coming to Marshalltown and in the back of my head this was always my dream job. I knew they had struggled but I looked at it as a challenge for me. I knew it was going to take time building and trying to build from the bottom up, there’s not much of a kids program here, so it’s just trying to get the excitement back for girls basketball in general.”

It’s a task that has been out of reach for a while for Bobcat girls basketball. The last team to finish above .500 was the 2004-05 contingent coached by Missy Sharer that went 16-7 behind Allie Osmundson and Ali Dolphin, the school’s all-time scoring leader. The last time Marshalltown managed more than four wins was 10 seasons ago.

O’Hare is as aware as anyone of the state of the program, and she hopes she’s leaving the team in position to climb.

“I think for the most part I’m leaving it in probably the best possible position,” she said. “Everybody returns except for Alyvia Chadderdon, our only senior, and if they work hard in the offseason they should be able to get over the hump.

“Hopefully they get somebody that buys into getting them into the gym in the summer and respects them, and for Marshalltown the overall goal needs to be baby steps. If you can get to five or six wins, that would be huge. That would be a big building block. I think that would be success. Five or six would be turning the corner but it just never happened for us.”

O’Hare exits after six seasons of no more than four wins, including the only winless season in school history of 0-22 in 2016-17. The lack of success record-wise didn’t push her out the door, however. Missing out on time with her family — her husband Kevin and sons Mitchell and Bennett, in particular — began weighing on her more after her mom’s passing.

There’s never a perfect time to step down, she said, but doing it in a year with only one graduating senior seemed like as good of a time as any.

“That was tough, but if you stick around for one more year you get another group of kids,” O’Hare said. “Either way it would have been tough, so it’s nice to ride it out with Alyvia, our lone senior. She stuck with it, and in the back of my mind I thought ‘she stuck with it for four years, so I’m going to stick with it.'”

Chadderdon rounded out her Bobcat basketball career on Saturday, too, with her final game — the team’s 66-30 loss to Class 5A No. 3 Southeast Polk in the regional semifinals — but left with a great deal of perspective.

“My sister (Aspen) was out for her four years and she felt the same thing when I was going out [for basketball], that ‘if I don’t go out I’m scared nobody else is going to go out,'” said Alyvia. “You want to do it for the other girls here, you want to do it for your coach, you want to do it for the program in general just to keep it going.”

She said she plans to stay on as the MHS girls cross country coach, but O’Hare, who is still among the top-30 scorers in Bobcat girls basketball history, wishes she could have been there when the tables do finally turn in Marshalltown’s favor. The desire to step away simply outweighed the need to stay on the sidelines.

“When I came into coaching, everything was win, win, win — that’s all I had on my mind,” she said. “Over the years, you get older and realize they’re high school kids and there’s so much more to it than that. Hopefully they’ve taken that away from basketball.”

Her Facebook post on Monday night summed it all up for her friends, family and former players.

“I have decided after coaching basketball for the last 20 years, that it was time to be done. This has been one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make. Basketball has been my passion since I was little. I have sacrificed time away from my family, especially my kids, to spend time with your kids but would definitely do it all over again. I have coached some amazing kids and have met some great families along the way. It hasn’t always been easy. I know as a coach that I did not please all my players or parents, but whatever decision I made was done for what was best for the kids and team. My job as a coach was to push the kids to be the best basketball player they could be, but more importantly it was to teach and help them become the best person they could be. My time at Marshalltown may not have turned out the way I expected it, but again I don’t regret my time here. I just hope that I was able to positively impact the lives of my players. I want to wish the Bobcat girls the best. I have always been a Bobcat and will always be a Bobcat!”