One day after his 38th birthday and just four days after his school lost in the state Class AA boys basketball championship game at Glens Falls, Half Hollow Hills West coach Bill Mitaritonna told Newsday Thursday that he is resigning for personal reasons.
"It's my decision and there are no other factors. It's time for me to start working for my kids. They're at the age that they need me around more," Mitaritonna said. He and his wife, Kristen, have three children: Jackie, 9, Courtney, 6, and Brendan, 4.
"I was at my daughter's lacrosse practice [Wednesday] night and it was great," he said. "I promised her when she was in the fourth grade, I'd coach her in basketball. She'll be in the fourth grade next winter."
Acknowledging that his other two kids likely will demand a similar promise, Mitaritonna laughed and said, "I guess I'm in for at least 10 years. My wife has been working part-time and taking care of the kids by herself because for the last four months, I wasn't around."
Mitaritonna said he was following the path taken last year by his close friend, Keith Buehler, who retired after a championship season as boys basketball coach at Port Jefferson in 2009 to spend more time with his four young children.
"Like Keith said, it's strictly a family decision," Mitaritonna said. "Of course I'll miss my players who'll be back next year, but I'll see them in school."
Mitaritonna, who teaches history at Hills West, just concluded his 10th season as the varsity coach. He guided the Colts to a 24-2 season that included 25 consecutive victories on the court before Sunday's 71-53 loss to Albany Christian Brothers Academy. Hills West had to forfeit one of its regular-season victories because it inadvertently used an ineligible player from the junior varsity.
The Colts were ranked No. 1 in New York State and No. 18 nationally by USA Today before their loss Sunday. "When I started 10 years ago, I wanted to make Half Hollow Hills West one of the most respected programs on Long Island. That was my goal," Mitaritonna said. "I can't say I expected two county championships and a Long Island championship. Give the credit for that to the players, who believe in what we did. I'm proud of our accomplishments."