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Travis Taylor sounded tired.

The head coach of the Windsor High School boys’ basketball team left me a voicemail last Wednesday. It was brief and to the point. “I’m resigning,” he said. “It’s not a big deal,” he said just after that.

But the sound of his voice — tinged with fatigue and sadness — told me it was very much a big deal to him. And it’s a big deal in prep basketball around here.

Taylor’s Jaguars have won two of the last three North Bay League titles. He’s gone 106-58 in six seasons since taking over the program in 2012. The Jags were a perfect 14-0 in 2015-16.

And this past season, the Jaguars won a dog fight in the NBL. It felt like there was a barnburner every week. And the Jags came out on top.

And despite all of that, Taylor, 36, is leaving. Why?

Because coaching can run a person into the ground. Even a person who loves it.

“I needed to catch my breath here,” Taylor said.

We all may watch sports in seasons, but when you are a player or a coach those seasons don’t seem to end.

Prep basketball in these parts runs from about Nov. 1 to early March if your team is very good. But that’s just the season. There are spring open gyms and summer leagues and optional (not really) fall workouts. And if you love it, you love it all. But sometimes you can’t have it all.

And it’s certainly not just basketball.

“Sports is such a year-round thing,” said Windsor co-athletic director Jeff Hardie. “Nobody gets a break. If you want to be competitive, you have to go year-round.”

Hardie would know. He must now fill coaching openings in both boys basketball and boys soccer.

Over at Montgomery, first-year football coach Tony Keefer announced recently that he, too, is leaving. He has a new job and it doesn’t leave him the time to run the run Vikings’ program.

The time pressure hasn’t gotten greater for Taylor over the years. He’s always put in those hours. But other parts of life start to give way. His own kids continue to get one year older every season.

He still coaches youth basketball and runs a youth basketball program. He’ll still teach P.E. at Healdsburg Junior High.

“It’s a lot on my plate,” he said. “When I started coaching I was single, living in an apartment.”

Now he’s got five kids, all of whom are younger than 10. There are dance recitals and gymnastic competitions to see. Perhaps he’ll take a vacation during Thanksgiving break. Or sleep in the day after Christmas — two things that are unheard of if you run a top-tier basketball program.

And perhaps he’ll watch some basketball … but contests with 9-year-olds, not 17-year-olds.

When I asked Taylor what kind of hours he puts in during the season and then during the offseason, he just laughed. He’s not a barometer for the norm, he said. But then again, he might be.

“I’m addicted to it. I have no off switch. I will watch film all night. I like doing it,” he said. “There is nothing like preparing for a game against Newman or Montgomery with a league title on the line.

“I have never been able to do anything with balance. I have always been an all or nothing guy.”

That kind of dedication is almost required now. If you’re not an on-campus teacher, it’s hard to imagine what kind of job would allow for a practice schedule from at least 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, game prep, film study, weight workouts, team dinners, game days … it goes on and on.

And while there may be grumbles here and there about our obsession with sports and sports figures, the folks in this world are clearly not doing it for the money. Or the accolades.

Hardie said Taylor’s stipend for last season was slightly more than $3,000. Some shot-in-the-dark guessing puts Taylor’s take-home at about $5 an hour during the season, and that doesn’t take into account any of the hundreds of offseason hours he puts in. And if my math is off (it usually is), it’s fair to say we can round down on his take-home pay.

“The money is nice in regard to ‘Thank you very much,’ but none of us do it for the stipend,” Hardie said. “It’s tough. You’ve got a young family, as much time as they put in? It’s tough.”

And let’s be clear. This is about Taylor, but it’s not. He’s not the only coach putting in countless hours. He’s not the only one getting the “thank you very much” stipend. He’s not the only one struggling to balance the love of coaching and kids with, let’s face it, real life.

But he’s successful, he’s a big name at a big program, and he just made the big call: Enough. At least for now.

He re-evaluated his priorities. I’m not sure how, but I wonder if we should re-evaluate ours: What we ask of coaches and what we ask of athletes. I’m not sure what it should look like but I can’t help but question it when a 36-year-old coach at the top of his game feels compelled to step away.

That said, Taylor made no bones about his plans to someday return to the bench. He didn’t say when but there was no question it was part of his plan.

“It’s in my blood,” he said. “It’s not retirement. I’m 36, I still have some coaching left.”

I wonder what the coaching landscape will look like when he returns.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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