CENTRAL POINT – Like many people plunged into different realities last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Crater Boys basketball coach Chris Schmerbach has rediscovered passions in his life beyond the short of hardwood.
With that in mind, Schmerbach stepped down as head coach this week, citing a number of factors that ultimately led to his decision after six seasons at Crater.
“The bottom line is the time, commitment and energy it took to run this thing for six years really drained me, to be honest,” said Schmerbach, 44. “The opportunity cost me the chance to do other things, with my family in particular being one of them, and I’m good at some things besides basketball and I haven’t done these things for a long time.
After the 2019-20 season was cut short due to COVID-19 concerns as the Comets prepared for a Class 5A semi-final game, Schmerbach and his company were unable to return to the field for several month.
During this downtime, Schmerbach said he was able to reassess several areas of his life.
“The fact that COVID came down forced me not to be involved in basketball,” the coach said, “and the energy and passion I had was directed to other places and opened my eyes to the fact that I have other goals in life that I want to accomplish that don’t involve play.
Beyond the opportunity to spend more time with his 22-year-old wife Kristi and their three daughters Emma, Tatum and Sarah, Schmerbach rediscovered his passion for real estate and construction that began as a child.
“I’ve been in construction all my life – my dad owns a construction company – and it all started for me when I was young,” he said. “I am really passionate about repairing houses, just like I am with construction crews. Creating something with my hands is a passion I’ve had since I was a kid, so I still have a lot of things I’m going to work on, it’s just a different passion and new goals I’m working on.
That was Schmerbach’s goal when he took over in 2015 to make Crater one of the best boys’ basketball programs in the state. Under his leadership, the Comets qualified for the state semifinals for the first time in the program’s history, initially in 2018 as well as in 2020.
Over the past three seasons, Crater has finished fifth and fourth in the state and peaked a year ago when it all came to a halt before the semi-final.
In total, Crater posted a record 89-53 under Schmerbach.
“It was a good race and I’m really proud of what I did,” said Schmerbach. “I was not the reason why it happened, I was part of it, because we had very good players and very good coaches and an administration that really supported me with some crazy ideas of go to hawaii and play in those storefronts and get there whatever i wanted it to be.
Schmerbach will coach the Comets on Monday in the Southern Oregon Conference tournament opener against Grants Pass for the last time, then hand the remainder of the tournament to assistant coach Bryan Scott due to a planned anniversary trip to Hawaii.
Crater sporting director David Heard said on Friday the job had already been posted and he hoped to act quickly to find a replacement.
Heard, having himself enjoyed two successes as a women’s basketball coach at Crater, said he understands Schmerbach’s decision and appreciates everything the coach has given to the school and the program at during his six years.
When Schmerbach took control of the Comets, he was the program’s sixth men’s basketball coach in eight seasons and brought the stability and leadership that Heard and Crater sought for the job.
Prior to joining the Comets, Schmerbach led the Marist High boys basketball program at Eugene from 2005-08, compiling a 56-29 record with a 4A State Championship in 2008 and a fifth place finish in the 3A tournament. in 2006.
Schmerbach said he originally planned to do away with basketball after leaving Marist, but that didn’t last long, as he joined Brian McDermott’s staff at Southern Oregon University as a assistant coach within one year. Schmerbach, who graduated from Union Klamath in 1995, spent six seasons at SOU before joining Crater.
“When I was at Marist, people said that (our success) was due to the resources and the players you had,” said Schmerbach, “so I wanted to try and take a program that wasn’t necessarily known for the basketball and create something special. “
Schmerbach was unsure at the time what level of players would soon end up in a Crater uniform, including Player of the Year Kiefer Edwards and Nate Bittle and a host of players who worked diligently to make the Comet program the best possible. .
“I was very lucky and lucky to meet some of the talent that we encountered right away,” said Schmerbach. “I didn’t know it was going to happen that fast, but when you have guys like Kiefer Edwards and obviously we all know what Nate has developed, it happens really quickly. And it’s just two, we had so many auxiliary players. who really worked and became some of the best players I’ve ever had.
Schmerbach, who is also a physical education teacher at Scenic Middle School, said the decision wasn’t easy, but it definitely looked like the right one at the time.
“I am not saying that I will never be a coach again,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t like basketball, because I like it. I really, really love basketball, but the amount of time, work, and pressure to run this program kind of took some of that away from me. I didn’t like him that much.
“I like winning and I really like where we took the program and being involved in it all,” added Schmerbach, “and even this year I really enjoyed it, just in a different way, but it’s just time to move on. “
Contact reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, [email protected], www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
Crater head coach Chris Schmerbach chats with an official during the State Class 5A third place competition at the Gill Coliseum in 2018. [MARK YLEN/ALBANY DEMOCRAT-HERALD]