Holly Pond varsity boys basketball coach Mitch Morris is hanging up his whistle.
The longtime Bronco, who spent 17 seasons at the helm of the program, reached his decision this week.
"I was able to take a leave of absence back in March, and I used that time to search within myself and all the things in play there,” said Morris, who’s also retiring as a teacher. "I just came to the realization that I needed to step away. My heart and soul haven’t been in it, and the past couple of years have been tough. The timing is good, and I feel good about it. I’m excited about the future.”
Morris, however, admitted a return to coaching wasn’t out of the picture.
“I’m definitely not going to close the door on that,” he said. “I know a lot of coaches who have stepped away and then had that itch to come back. I just think the guys need a new voice right now."
During the Morris era, Holly Pond registered eight 20-plus win seasons, seven Sweet 16 appearances, three Elite Eight berths and two Final Four appearances. The Broncos also claimed 11 area titles and three county tournament championships, and once reeled off 72 straight area triumphs.
Morris picked up his 300th victory with the school in December 2019 and finished with an overall record of 303-215.
“I knew when I got to Holly Pond I wanted to build a championship program and ultimately win a state championship,” he said. “We got close a time or two. I think we were able to build a really good program for a number of years. It wasn’t just me, though. I was blessed to have a lot of really good players and coaches who bought in to what we wanted to do. We had a lot of stability. There were a lot of things in play that made it successful. We had players, coaches, support from the school and community. I’m proud of what I was able to be part of, but I’m not going to take a lot of credit for it. Being able to coach my boys (Gunter and Griffin Morris) was special, too. That’s something I will always cherish.”
Although Morris said he’d miss some aspects of being a coach, he’s certainly excited about having more down time.
“I’m looking forward to going on our summer vacation and not having to worry about basketball,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas without having to worry about a tournament or having to get the gym ready. Now, when October rolls around and practice starts — will I miss it? Probably. I know I’ll miss the kids.”
As for his feelings toward Holly Pond, Morris couldn’t have been more thankful for the journey.
“I’ve really, really enjoyed my time as a coach here,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be when I started coaching in 1990. Holly Pond is home. They allowed me to do my thing for 17 seasons, and I’m so grateful for that opportunity. The people, the community, the teachers have always been so supportive, and I wouldn’t take anything for my years here."