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Tom Young resigns from Mitchell boys' basketball position

Knowing that he may never coach again, Tom Young submitted his resignation as the head Mitchell High School boys' basketball coach Monday. He cited health and the amount of time devoted to running a Class AA basketball program as reasons for leaving.

Tom Young
Mitchell High School boys' basketball coach Tom Young discusses strategy during an Eastern South Dakota Conference game against Huron earlier this year at the Corn Palace. (Luke Hagen/Republic)

Knowing that he may never coach again, Tom Young submitted his resignation as the head Mitchell High School boys' basketball coach Monday.

He cited health and the amount of time devoted to running a Class AA basketball program as reasons for leaving. Young said he will never seek out another coaching position, saying he's likely done for good.

"That's a definite possibility that's even made this decision tougher," Young said. "Knowing that I'm at the point in my life that I may never coach again ... I'm OK with that."

Last year under Young, the Kernels went 5-17 and missed the state tournament, marking the first time the Mitchell High School boys' program missed state since the 2001-02 season.

Mitchell's most notable wins this season were over Brandon Valley and Watertown, which were both ranked in the state's top-five Class AA teams at the time. Brandon Valley went on to take second place at the state tournament.

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After the season, Young said he was unsure if he would return and told Mitchell Activities Director Geoff Gross he would finalize his decision by the middle of April. Young sent Gross a letter explaining his resignation at approximately 10 a.m. Monday.

Young was hired last April, only a few weeks after former Mitchell boys' coach Gary Munsen wrapped up his 39-year varsity coaching career with the Kernels. Young took over a team that did not return any starters from the previous season. When he put in his application for the position, he didn't foresee only coaching the team for only one year.

"I have no regrets for me," he said. " ... I feel bad that my tenure was so short."

The main reason he gave for resigning was he did not enjoy the long road trips and amount of time he was away from his wife and family during the season.

He added he's been battling pain with a herniated disk in his neck. The injury occurred sometime in October and it was re-aggravated sometime at the end of January or beginning of February.

Young does not know how the injury happened and it may involve surgery at some point.

"It was getting better," said Young, who turns 56 next month. "I'm still not 100 percent. I feel like I've just got to go real slow with the healing. The first time it was moderate pain and the second time was very, very strong pain, a lot of pain."

Gross, who called the resignation "a loss to our basketball program," said Young is a man of integrity, a man of respect and felt there were many positives on the season despite the losing record.

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He said the position is once again open and the district will take applicants until further notice. Gross added the first priority will be to hire someone who can be a teacher and a coach, something that Young was not.

"Things change and situations change," Gross said. "We have no question of his decision. We try to hire people that are lifers, so to speak, and that will be with us for a long time. Sometimes that just doesn't happen, and that's what happened."

News of Young's resignation spread throughout the team after school Monday, said Beau Brown, who was a starting sophomore this past season.

He was surprised to learn of Young's decision and believed the coach would return next year. He agreed the highlights of the year were wins over Brandon Valley and Watertown, saying it was because of the way Young made the team give "110 percent every day" that allowed for those victories.

"He taught me a lot about life and basketball," Brown said. "He taught a lot of life lessons, and that's what I appreciated the most."

Assistant Mitchell boys' basketball coach Craig Mock did not apply for the position when it was open last spring, but sat alongside Young on the bench all season. Despite Young's short tenure at the school, Mock agreed that Young was the right choice for the job when it was open.

Mock found out of Young's resignation Monday afternoon and said he has not made any decision whether or not he will apply for the job this time. Mock said he enjoys being a part of the Mitchell basketball program and plans to stay connected with the team in some capacity.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to school personnel or my family," Mock said Monday evening. "This is something I'm going to need to think about. I haven't even had an opportunity to digest it at this point."

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Young retires with 21 years of coaching experience and a 332-109 record. He had stops at Hanson, Mitchell Christian and Mitchell High School. He won a Class B state championship with Mitchell Christian in 2003 and his Mitchell Christian team was runner-up in 2007.

Young said the only way he ever sees himself coaching again is if a school seeks him out, and if there is less time and travel involved.

"I will truly miss the kids and am hoping to still work with kids in the area individually if they contact me, as I have in the past," Young said, adding, "I am very thankful for all the support I have received from the parents, coaches and community before, during and after the year. I have received many very-kind notes of encouragement. They have meant a lot and my hope is that I didn't let them down."

Related Topics: KERNELSBASKETBALL
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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