There’s only so much time in the day for Brian Stevens.
That’s what led to the decision for Stevens to step down late last week as the head coach of the Northfield girls golf team, a position he’s held for the last 15 seasons.
With an increased class load that requires him to teach primarily AP psychology and AP economics classes, the logistics of leaving school at lunchtime to make it to golf meets in the spring as his students are revving up to AP exams weren’t feasible.
“It would just have too great an impact on too many students,” Stevens said. “That was probably the major reason.”
Other factors include the fact that his daughter, Molly, is now a freshman on the women’s golf team at Augustana University, and Brian would like to be able to make it to some of her competitions in the spring.
His son, Nate, will also be a sophomore on the NHS boys golf team this spring and typically maintains a busy summer docket of tournaments Brian enjoys traveling for, meaning he isn’t always available in Northfield for Raiders looking for some extra work on the course.
What caused Stevens to waffle back and forth between leaving and staying, though, was the group of golfers he’s leaving behind.
“I’ve gotten close to so many of them and there’s some really good talent there as well,” Stevens said. “Like I told them, I would not be surprised to see a run at the state tournament coming as a team here fairly soon. It’s a sad time for me to have to do it, but in the end I think it’ll be best not only for me and my students, but also the team, too, because they’ll have somebody that is able to devote enough time to it as necessary.”
Northfield Activities Director Joel Olson said the position will be posted online this week, but since it’s a spring sport there’s not an urgent rush to fill the opening.
“For a timeline, you’d like it to be sometime in the next month or two, but since we don’t have to rush it, we’ll take our time with getting the right person,” Olson said.
During his 15-year reign, Stevens bolstered the overall numbers of the program in addition to driving the level of golf to some of the best in the state. The Raiders qualified as a team for the state tournament in 2011, and since 2008 Northfield has sent at least one individual to compete at state every year. The last two years, Molly Stevens has claimed second and third overall.
Those were the expectations Brian Stevens set when he first took the job, and he’s proud of the fact his golfers met those expectations at every turn.
He said he hopes the structure is in place will enable his successor to have little trouble sustaining this type of success. Stevens also said if the situation is right, he’d like to help out with the program as a volunteer coach, even if his attendance at individual meets might not be sterling.
Just because he isn’t able to be as present doesn’t mean Stevens won’t possess the same amount of emotional investment in the coming years.
“That job was one of the best things I’ve ever done professionally in 25 years of work,” Stevens said. “I absolutely developed some really close relationships with so many of the kids that I coached, and that’s really the reason to coach, is to develop those relationships. As far as us being successful, I think I got really lucky in having some kids that wanted to work and get better.”