For the first time in a decade, the Morris girls basketball team is searching for a new coach.
On Monday night, the Morris Community High School District 101 board did not renew Luke Windy's coaching position for the 2013-14 school year. Supporters for and against the decision were on hand — so much so that the meeting had to be moved into the MCHS band room.
"I make recommendations based on what I believe are in the best interest of Morris High School — our students, teachers and staff," Morris Athletic Director George Dergo said.
Dergo submitted his list of coaching recommendations at the meeting and the board then voted on them after executive session. Dergo's list was approved by a 5-0 vote, with one abstention.
Proponents on hand in support of Windy point to the fact that Windy is the second-winningest coach in MCHS history with 140 wins. That ranks him behind only the 255 victories turned in by Russ Battersby from 1985 through 1997.
"I'd like to thank all of the supporters. I got tremendous support from former players and parents and that meant a lot to me," Windy said. "It was great to have that support."
On the other side, Windy's 10-year overall record of 140-138 did not include a regional title. The last time a Morris girls basketball team won a regional was in 2001 under Dave Harper.
Still, Dergo would give no specifics as to exactly why Windy was not renewed.
"I am not going to comment on individual personnel decisions," he said. "I recommended all the coaches that I feel will have a positive impact in their capacity for the 2013-14 seasons."
Over the last two seasons, the Morris girls varsity team had a combined record of 13-43, including a 6-21 slate this past winter.
"Mr. Dergo didn't believe the program was going in the right direction," Windy said when asked if the A.D. told him the reason for the recommendation to not bring him back.
Windy said that he was told by Dergo "two to three weeks" in advance of the board meeting of his decision.
"I wasn't happy. Obviously I disagree with not being recommended," Windy said about his reaction to being told about the decision. "But that's (Dergo's) right. If he thinks I'm not doing the job, that is his right as my boss to make a change."
Dergo said the search to fill the coaching vacancies is already underway.
"We're in the process now of preparing the information that will be going out for the job openings," he said. "We're going to post them either today or tomorrow and they will be done according to the established procedures of the Morris High School Education Association.
Windy teaches business at MCHS, and he says that is now his main focus.
"Obviously I will continue to teach here at MCHS," he said. "I am a teacher first and a coach second. I will continue to teach here but I am hoping to coach somewhere else. I'd like to find a program that has a need that I can help out."
In addition to girls basketball, Windy has also coached tennis and soccer at MCHS. He says that he would like to find a school within a reasonable driving distance where he could coach basketball again.
"The nice thing about being in the business this long and running the (Morris Ladies) Shootout for so long is that I have a lot of contacts," Windy said. "I'd be willing to go anywhere where I could help out. That would be great. I love what I'm doing and it's something I'd take a look at for sure.
"I just love the game of basketball and whether that's coaching at the freshman, sophomore or JV level, it doesn't matter. I just want to continue coaching the game I grew up with and love."