Orness resigns from head coaching spot

Scott Orness stepped down as the head coach of the Bainbridge boys’ basketball team Friday. Orness leaves with a record of 99-70 and led the team to the state championship in 2007.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Scott Orness stepped down as the head coach of the Bainbridge boys’ basketball team Friday. Orness leaves with a record of 99-70 and led the team to the state championship in 2007.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Cites time away from his family as the main reason.

After spending seven years with his second family, head coach Scott Orness said he wants to spend more time with his first family.

Orness, 31, resigned from his position as head coach of the Bainbridge boys’ basketball team Friday.

In a letter he handed out to parents, players and supporters of the team, he said the time spent away from his wife, Molly and two children – five-year-old Emma and two-year-old Cade – was more than he wanted to give up.

“I had a moment driving home on a Thursday evening this past season when I realized that I hadn’t seen my own children since the past Sunday and that I wouldn’t see them again until the following Sunday because of an away Friday night game and film/scouting on Saturday,” he wrote.

“My own kids will be wearing that cap and gown soon and I realize that I do not want to miss any more of the short time I have with them.”

On Monday, Orness said stepping down was on his mind at several points during the season, but had to put those thoughts behind.

“I had to not think about it for the good of the team and my own mental health,” he said. “I had to wait until I was totally away from competition and the emotional ups and downs (of basketball).

“Those (past) three weeks were really important.”

He also stressed that he wasn’t leaving because of any perceived drop in talent in the program or that he was upset with the recent changes and alleged recruiting in the Metro League.

“When you talk about talent, I think it’s stronger than it’s ever been,” he said. “There’s a great depth of talent (from high school) all the way (down) through the fourth grade. I think the program’s in great shape.

“It takes more time to compete in the Metro League,” Orness continued. “It’s a time thing.

“It’s not just the (regular) season, you have to put a ton of time in the offsesaon with playing 60 games over the summer, running open gyms, getting into the weight room. It’s a full-time job.”

After dropping off his resignation letter to principal Brent Peterson, Orness met with his players to inform them of his decision to resign as coach.

“It was probably one of the most emotional meetings I’ve had,” he said. “There were a lot of tears from myself and the players.

“It’s hard to move on after seven years.”

Ben Eisenhardt, one of the team’s top returners for next season, said they never saw it coming.

“It was absolutely a surprise,” he said. “I just assumed it was going to be about what times to set up open gym and the weight room.

“When I started sitting back and thinking about it, when you think about Bainbridge basketball, you think about him. He’s been a big part of my life.”

Hired on as the Spartans made the move to the Metro League in 2001, Orness led the team to the playoffs six out of the seven seasons he was coach.

He compiled a record of 99-70, finishing with double-digit win seasons five times.

Orness’ best year was last year when he led a talented team including Coby Gibler and current Gonzaga starter Steven Gray to a 25-4 record, a Metro Mountain Division title, a Sea-King District 2 title and second place in state.

He won numerous coaching awards including the WICBA 3A coach of the year and the Metro League coach of the year.

“It was a huge blessing,” he said of getting to coach Gray. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to coach someone like Steven.

“My dad (Bruce, an assistant) coached 35 years (at Franklin Pierce) and he’s never worked with a player like that.

Orness said he’ll still stay on the island and help with the youth basketball programs and still run his summer camps.

He’ll also make sure everything is in order for the team when summer rolls around.

“I feel great about where the program is, but it’s not just, ‘here, I’m done,’” he said. “I’m not going to just leave them out to dry. I want to make sure their summer program is complete.

“I want what’s best for the guys and I know what needs to be done to be competitive in Metro.”

Bainbridge athletic director Annette Duvall said they’re still working on the process to get a new coach in, hopefully by mid-May.

“We’ve got some time,” she said. “We’re thankful he gave plenty of notice. He was very considerate of the timing.

While Eisenhardt would like to see someone from Orness’ immediate staff – Terry Lande, Stuart Mitchell or former player Henry Guterson – take the reins, Orness said he wasn’t sure if they would apply for the job.

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