HOWLAND - Don Andres, who was a head basketball coach for 32 seasons in the area, announced his retirement on April 17.
Andres began his career in the 1971-72 season at John F. Kennedy High School. He had stops at Howland (twice), Niles McKinley and Reynolds, Pa. He spent the last four seasons at Howland, leading the Tigers to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 13 seasons.
Andres leaves the coaching ranks with a career record of 331-292. He led teams to nine sectional titles and five league titles. He received Trumbull County coaching honors nine times and district honors three times.
Andres admits that it will be difficult to not put together a team when camps open next November. He leaves the coaching ranks at age 63 and with no regrets.
"I loved the kids that played for me, and I love the support I received at Howland, especially by the faculty," said Andres, who plans to teach two more years. "I think I'm popular in the community."
Last season was admittedly difficult for Andres. The Tigers expected big things from a senior-laden team, but several close losses proved costly. The season came to an abrupt end with a loss to Struthers in the opening round of the Division II sectional tournament.
"We were counting on this team to do a little more than we did," Andres said. "We lost a couple close games, including one in double overtime to Poland. We could have tied for the league, and we didn't. We groomed these seniors for this season, and that was it."
The loss to Struthers, which concluded a 13-8 season, added to the frustrations of the season.
"That was a very bitter pill, but that wasn't the determining factor," Andres said. "I've had enough."
Andres said he wasn't forced out, despite rumors to the contrary. He said the junior varsity players wanted him to return, but he feels it's time to move on.
"I did this more or less on my own," he said. "I'm sure there are all kinds of comments out there that I was run out, but that's not really true. I probably could have stayed, but I didn't want to. I had to make a decision, and that was it."
Rick King, athletic director for boys sports, was appreciative of Andres' contributions.
"He added a lot to our program, and he'll be missed," King said. "Fans will remember him for his enthusiasm and high energy."
King would not say if Andres was forced out.
''We had a winning record last season, but it wasn't what we wanted it to be,'' King said.
While Andres never had a team that took him to the state tournament, he was widely considered among the best Xs and Os coaches in the area. He made sure his players were prepared for every game, and he put passion into preparations.
During games Andres was a non-stop bundle of energy. He paced in front of the bench and wasn't afraid to hide his emotions. Fans sitting in the second or third row weren't surprised if Andres ended up sitting next to them for a few moments after a bad sequence by the players.
Andres never apologized for the emotions he exhibited on the court. His voice could be heard shouting instructions to players, which was his way of showing the emotion he felt for the game and the athletes.
"I just coach with passion, and I'm happy about that," he said. "I did everything for the kids."
Andres listed winning a Steel Valley Conference title at Howland and multiple Mahoning Valley Conference titles at JFK as highlights of his career.
"I loved my years at JFK," he said. "I loved my first go around at Howland, and the people at Reynolds treated me well. That's about it."
Andres was a man of few words to the media, but he was non-stop action as a coach. He enjoyed his time with the kids, but he was never shy about revealing his feelings concerning intrusive parents. When asked by a Tribune Chronicle reporter several years ago what his perfect team would be, Andres said, "A team of orphans."
While most coaches in all sports might agree, none have been willing to express similar feelings in such a succinct and expressive manner. Reminded of that comment on Friday, Andres didn't back off.
"I still feel that way," he said. "Parents cause most of the problems. I'd like to have a team of orphans."