After 18 seasons as the head coach of the West York boys' basketball team, Bill Ackerman resigned on Tuesday.
Ackerman notified the school administration of his decision and then later told his team that he was stepping down. He cited family reasons for resigning in a letter he sent to high school principal Janet May. He later confirmed that to The York Dispatch.
"I've tried my best to be there for (my kids) and I think I've done the best I can," Ackerman said. "I've certainly sacrificed time with them for the sake of the program and the team, and it's time to flip that script. I told my players today that we have new players come through the program every year, but as a parent, your kids only go through adolescence once. I can't re-create their childhood, so I want to make sure that I'm there for them."
Ackerman has son (Dylan) who is 11 and a daughter (Parker) who is 5.
In an email, athletic director Frank Hawkins declined to comment on Ackerman's resignation, saying that he'll handle all questions on Wednesday.
Ackerman was 348-132 during his tenure with the Bulldogs, going 12-9 this past season, qualifying for both the York-Adams League playoffs and District 3-AAA tournament.
In his 18 years, he guided West York to 11 division/section titles, three league titles and a District 3-AAA crown in 2006-07. Ackerman turned the Bulldogs into one of the most consistent programs in, not only York County, but all of District 3, qualifying for the district tournament in 17 of his 18 seasons and leading the program to nine consecutive 20-win seasons from 1999-00 through 2007-08.
"Honestly, it's always been about the relationships, and I think that's true in anything you do," Ackerman said. "If you go into any endeavor and you're looking at just the carrot or the golden ring, you're going to miss the relationships along the way and I've tried not to do that. We've gathered a lot of carrots and golden rings along the way, but the thing I'll cherish most are the relationships I've made over the last 18 years between parents and players and other coaches and fans, and that's really the most cherished thing for me."
Ackerman said he's contemplated this decision at the end of the last four or five seasons, but every year, after giving himself a couple weeks to recharge his batteries to gear up for the offseason and preparation for the next year, the urge to coach came back. But that never happened following this season, and he felt that if he couldn't give 100 percent to his players and the program, then it was time for him to step aside and let someone else take over the team.
Praise from player: Senior forward Darian McCauley played for Ackerman the last four seasons and spoke about him with the highest regard.
"I've been so close to him over the last four years and he was like a second father to me," McCauley said. "...He always had the saying of 'walk the walk' and that was kind of his way of saying, 'OK, what are you going to do now? Life knocked you down, so how are you going to respond to it?' And he's a firm believer of that and we bought into that and he continues to walk the walk today ... So, when he broke the news to us then that he had cancer (during McCauley's freshman year), he was kind of like, 'OK, just another battle we all have to fight together.' He's just an outstanding coach and outstanding person."
Ackerman will now turn his attention to pursuing other goals that he's placed on the back burner while he's been a coach, including trying to obtain his principal certification.
Even though he's stepping away from the program, Ackerman hopes that the moniker "coach" never leaves him.
"Coaching will always be a part of me," he said. "I think one of the greatest things a person can call you is 'coach.' I think it's one of the highest forms of respect and I certainly hope I never lose that moniker, but, at the same time, there are other things I want to do in my life."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org