Citing the need to focus on his education career, Wade Haapajoki resigned Monday as head coach of the Brainerd Warriors boys basketball team.
Haapajoki, 34, a 1995 Brainerd High School graduate, coached the Warriors for two seasons. He said the demands of being a special education teacher at BHS and being a head coach had become incompatible.
“I have to take care of my professional career, that’s what’s important,” Haapajoki said Wednesday. “Everyone has priorities in life. Sometimes you lose your focus about what your priorities are. Brainerd’s boys basketball program and players deserve someone who can give them 110 percent. At this time, I’m not able to.”
Haapajoki’s Warriors went 11-15 in 2009-10 and 4-22 last season. He submitted his resignation to administration, the same day he notified his coaching staff, and informed his players Wednesday.
Practice for this season begins Nov. 21.
“I know the timing (of the resignation) isn’t great, but again let’s look at what’s best for kids,” Haapajoki said. “They deserve a coach who can give them 110 percent, and right now I’m not able to do that. I need to focus on areas in my life where I can do that, on the professional side.”
Haapajoki said the decision to step aside was difficult and made with a “heavy heart.”
“We have great kids in our program,” he said. “They deserve the best. We put a lot of things in place. It wasn’t just about winning, it was about the importance of doing stuff as a team and sticking together.
“I wish them nothing but the best. I think they will have a good year. Things are in place for them to be successful.”
BHS activities director Charlie Campbell said he was looking forward to working with Haapajoki this winter.
“He’s a top-shelf guy,” Campbell said. “He has a lot of heart, a lot of passion. He owned his program. I certainly will miss the opportunity to work with him. He made (the program) as good as he possibly could. He worked tirelessly for that.”
Campbell said the position will be posted Thursday and he hopes to name a successor after five days.
“Hopefully, the sixth or seventh day, we’re ready to move with that, we need to be,” Campbell said. “We’ve got a coaching staff that’s committed to not only following the principles Wade tried to instill in his kids and the program but a coaching staff that’s committed to Brainerd Warrior basketball and the kids in it. We will move forward. It will look different, but it will be good.
“Our intention is to be cognizant of the time frame with the proximity to the season. We have a goal to make sure there’s some stability for the kids. I believe that will work well with the core coaches that are still involved and that that will happen.”
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.