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After a remarkable 37-year career as girls head basketball coach at Northview High School, Jerry Sigler announced his retirement in a meeting with his team Thursday afternoon.
Sigler, 67, posted a 675-177 career record, a win total that ranks No. 3 all-time among Ohio girls prep basketball coaches. He guided the Wildcats to 18 league championships, seven district titles, and three appearances in the state semifinals.
“It’s been quite a run, and I have to thank Sylvania Schools for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this,” Sigler said. “I’ve had so many great kids who have come in and worked so hard. They bought into what we tried to do, and I think the tradition just kind of carried itself from one year to the next.
“I look back and see all those kids who are now doctors, and attorneys, and teachers. To think I played a little part in helping mold them into something like that is pretty rewarding. There’s no doubt that I’ll miss it, but I think it’ll be good for the program to get somebody in here with a lot more energy.”
Only Dave Butcher (Pickerington and Pickerington North) and Ed Zink (Beavercreek) have posted more girls basketball victories in the state.
Although his final season was a close call at 12-11, all 37 of Sigler’s seasons ended with winning records. Sigler led Northview to nine championships in the former Great Lakes League, plus nine more titles in the Northern Lakes League, including six since 2002.
“There’s a couple things,” said Sigler, who had retired from teaching in 2001. “One is the long drive I have to make every day. It’s an hour each way [from Onsted, Mich.], and that was wearing on me quite a bit.
“And I think the program needs someone with more energy than I have to give. I just think it’s time for someone else to take the program, if they want to keep it at the level it’s at.”
Sigler was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April, 2011, and underwent successful surgery to remove the cancer in September of that year. He said Thursday that he remains in good health, but that he and his wife of 46 years, Karen, had been thinking about his retirement from coaching for a while.
“There were a number of times this year on the way home when I said, ‘Boy, am I tired,’ ” Sigler said. “Having to make that drive five or six times a week, it was like, ‘You know, maybe it’s time.’ ”
Tempting Sigler to continue was the prospect of coaching a promising group of Wildcats.
“That was hard, knowing what was there,” he said. “But to move to the point where the program has been in the past, I just didn’t feel like I had the energy to move it forward as much as I would like to.”
Sigler’s final Wildcats team, which had an all-sophomore starting lineup by season’s end, upset Whitmer and Central Catholic in tournament play before falling in a Division I district final to eventual state semifinalist Notre Dame.
Sigler’s first team to reach the state final four was his 22-2 group in 1978. His Wildcats made back-to-back trips to the D-I semifinals in 2004 (26-1) and 2005 (25-2).
His 2003 team fell in the regional final to finish 24-2, beginning a three-year stretch where Northview went 75-5 overall.
In all, 21 of Sigler’s players went on to play college basketball. Five of his squads ranked in the top 10 of the final state poll, with his 21-1 team of 1979 the highest of those at No. 2.
Individually, Sigler was twice named Associated Press state coach of the year in Division I (1979, 2004), and three times he was named AP Northwest Ohio district coach of the year. In addition to the seven district titles, nine times Sigler’s teams were district runners-up.
All this from someone who was not projected to last long in the profession.
“The athletic director [Jim Glase] who hired me back then told me I’d be lucky to last one year,” Sigler said, “because I was coaching girls. But it’s just been a tremendous experience, and I’m going to miss it greatly.
“The game of girls basketball has been so good to me and my wife. We will cherish all the memories we have had at Northview.”
What was the top memory?
“It’s hard to pick out one, but I think it probably was making it to Columbus with that group with Nikki Smith [All-Ohioan in 2004], and then getting back the following year with pretty much all role players off the bench from the year before,” Sigler said. “They played very well together as a group.
“There are some other things that Karen and I would like to do, and now is the time to go and do those things.”
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.