It was a day Jason Cassidy knew was coming. He just didn’t know it had already arrived.

Cassidy resigned as Gardiner Area High School boys basketball coach on Wednesday after 11 years at the Tigers’ helm. Athletic director Nate Stubbert said the school will place an ad looking for a new coach.

Cassidy, who lives in Richmond, said he’s stepping down in order to spend more time with his family, which includes a son going into seventh grade and a daughter entering third grade in the Richmond school district, both of whom are involved in school activities and sports throughout the year.

“You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re shortchanging your own children or your high school team,” said Cassidy, 47, who finished with a 117-95 record in Gardiner. “Summer ball really emphasized that, that I’m not even making it to (my son’s) All-Star baseball games, and that’s just not fair to him or my family. … I was just in a situation where you can’t be in two places at one time, and you only get one chance to do this with your own children.”

Not that that made the decision to leave a job he’d had for more than a decade any easier.

“It was absolutely one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make,” he said. “I love the kids we were working with, love the school system, and they treated me very well.”

Principal Chad Kempton said he supported Cassidy’s choice.

“People that coach know how much time goes into it and how much time you have to dedicate to it,” Kempton said. “It’s not just games and practices. You’ve got to scout, you’ve got to prepare. It’s a lot of time, and when you’ve got a family, you’ve got to make a decision as to what you want to do.”

Cassidy said he knew he was going to make that decision. He just thought he had more time.

“It kind of snuck up on me,” he said. “I kind of knew it would come some day that I’d have to make a decision. I thought maybe I could wait until they got into high school. … (But) it just seemed like the right time to do it.”

After speaking with Kempton, Cassidy broke the news to his players after a summer game. He wanted to tell them right away, rather than wait until the summer basketball activities ended and he wouldn’t get a chance to inform them in person.

“If we waited a couple of weeks, then you’re not with your kids so you can’t have that closure with them,” he said. “I didn’t want the kids to feel that I was running out on them. It was very emotional to sit down with them and let them know the decision I made. I shed a few tears, a few of them shed a few tears. … I’ve known these kids from sixth grade on. We’ve known each other a long time.”

Cassidy, a sixth grade math teacher at Gardiner Middle School, also wanted to give the school plenty of time to find a replacement.

“I figured if I step down now, it’s a good time for the school and my team,” he said. “It gives them three solid months to find the coach that’s the right fit for them.”

The process has already started. Stubbert said he expects a good amount of interest in the position.

“We’re going through the process of advertising for it right now,” Stubbert said. “With Gardiner being a relatively high-profile school and basketball program, I imagine we’ll get quite a few applicants, so the process could take a little while.”

The replacement will look to carry on what Cassidy helped turn into a steady Class B and then Class A contender. He led the Tigers to winning records in seven of his 11 seasons and brought Gardiner to the 2012 Class B state championship game, where it lost to Yarmouth.

“The competitive part of being a coach, that’s the most fun,” he said. “Sitting down with my assistants and JV coaches and going over scouting reports, and bringing those scouting reports to the kids and having them act out the gameplan. … It doesn’t always work out, but the times it really does work out and the kids buy into something … that’s where the adrenaline comes from.”

Cassidy said he doesn’t envision a return to the bench any time soon, but is keeping the door open for a return to varsity coaching once his children get through school.

“I can’t say for sure that I’ll be a varsity coach again someday, but I wouldn’t rule that out at all,” he said. “I still have a passion for the sport, and like sharing the sport. … I certainly enjoyed it and we had some good success.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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