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North girls basketball coach Kay steps down

After four successful years as North Medford High's girls basketball coach, Mike Kay has resigned.

Kay, 41, will remain as North's athletic director. He also started a new position Tuesday as director of North's alternative education night school.

There comes a time when you've been a head coach for 11 years and been in coaching for 19 years, to take a look at your career and see if you want to travel on a different path, says Kay. I've reached that point.

I had more time off this summer than I've have for a long time, and I liked it. I got to know my wife again, and I discovered she's a nice lady.

Kay coached Mazama to five Southern Oregon Conference girls basketball titles in seven years. The Vikings placed third in the 1991 state tournament behind all-state forward Tara Harrington.

Kay took over the Black Tornado program in 1995. The team tied Ashland for the Southern Oregon Conference title last winter.

During his four years at North Medford, Kay's team won 52 Southern Oregon Conference games and lost 10. North won the consolation championship in the 1998 state tournament.

Kay says he probably won't return to the sideline.

As far as the future is concerned, I think you've seen the last of Mike Kay as a coach, he says. Maybe I'll change my mind, but I doubt it. I know I'll miss coaching, but I'll still be around the games as athletic director. If I miss it too much, then I'll be back.

Somewhere.

Kay will play a major role in the selection of his successor.The selection committee will consist of district athletic coordinator Bruce Howell, North principal Don Lacey, and Kay.

I'll do the recommending, and I'll have one vote, says Kay, who says at least two (unnamed) assistants from his staff have applied for the position.

The interview and selection processes will be fast.

In the interest of the kids in the program, and the timing, we feel it's important to have the new coach in place by the end of the month, Kay says.

One possible successor is John Thomas, who was an assistant under former coach Gordon Crowston. Thomas finished off the season when Crowston resigned abruptly, five games into the 1994-95 season, then remained as an assistant to Kay.

Thomas is not a school staff member. He works in the roofing business.

John has positioned himself to be a serious applicant for this job, says Howell. He was the interim head coach before Mike got here, and he was one of two finalists for the job that Mike took.

J.T. remained a loyal assistant, and he has earned his stripes.`But we will open this up and see who applies. We want to get the best candidate we can, based on coaching ability and taking over one month before we start in November.

In a perfect world, we would like the new coach to be a staff member, but we'll wait and see on this. Most of our teaching positions are already filled, and that makes it tougher to bring in somebody from outside. But it can be done.

Photo from AP Mike Kay is leaving girls basketball behind after 11 seasons in the Southern Oregon Conference, including the past four at North Medford. He will continue as the Black Tornado's athletic director.