Add head coach Adrian Newell to the short list of members who won't be returning to the Oak Park and River Forest girls' basketball team next season.
Newell, who accumulated an impressive coaching record of 109-49 in her five years as head coach, told her team a few weeks ago that she would not be returning. Newell's husband, Kevin, has been relocated for work, and the couple will be moving to either Memphis or New Orleans by August, Newell said last week.
"It's really hard to leave," said Newell, who departs alongside three graduating seniors, including two starters. "I've been involved with this school for so long."
After spending seven years as an assistant coach on varsity, Newell took over head coaching duties from Linda Carlson before the 2001-02 season. She coached the team to an 21-10 record that first year. In 2002-03, the Huskies won a regional championship and closed out the season with 30 wins and just three losses. That season was a memorable one for all the high school girls basketball programs in Oak Park and River Forest. Trinity knocked OPRF out of State contention in an intense sectional championship, and Fenwick ended up in the State Finals.
"That was quite a year," said Newell. "I was just thinking about that year the other day. It's definitely one of the most memorable."
Trinity also dispatched OPRF from the playoffs this season, which led to the Huskies closing out their season with a 19-11 mark.
Former athletes that developed their skills under Newell's tutelage include: Aubrey Hampton (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Brittany Marshall (Tennessee State), Dani Engleman (St. Xavier University), Thea Rogers (Illinois-Wesleyan) and Ashleen Bracey, who will attend and play for Illinois State University in the fall.
"It's going to be different not coaching and not being around kids, but it might be nice to see what else is out there," said Newell, who herself played college ball at Kansas, and then in the pros. "Coaching takes a lot of time, so it will be nice to relax for awhile."
Newell added that she hopes to someday get back into the field of coaching.
"It won't be right away, but if I do I want to coach younger kids," she said. "It would be nice to help them develop earlier, so that by the time they make it to the varsity level they are more prepared."
Newell is the mother of Chris Newell, who starred on the OPRF boys basketball team in '03.
Newell said she predicts the head coaching position might be filled by someone who has already been coaching in the program. Robert Biggins, who has been head coach at the sophomore level for seven years, has expressed interest in the position, according to Newell.