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.