Greenfield— Greenfield-Upon leaving the court after a disappointing 82-50 loss to Milwaukee Northwest on Friday night, the members of the Greenfield boys basketball team had no idea of the emotional jolt that lay just ahead of them.
When they were settled into their locker room, coach Jim Nowak gave them the stunning news that he was resigning as coach, effective immediately, due to health reasons.
"That was the toughest decision I've ever had to make," said Nowak, who worked for 10 seasons as the Hustlin' Hawks' head coach and led the team to Woodland Conference championships in 2004 and 2007.
Probably the toughest moment of that decision came in the locker room on Friday night. "After the game, I talked to the kids about it," he related. "I broke down, the kids broke down and I hugged each one of them and told them how much they all mean to me. There was not a dry eye in the house."
Nowak then gave each player a letter to give to their parents announcing his decision.
He has survived earlier bouts with testicular cancer but would not say whether that was related to his current health concern.
Nowak said his fondest memory of his 15 total years of coaching at Greenfield came in 2004 with the Woodland championship. "We were picked seventh before the season, and we went on a six-game winning streak late in the year," he said. "It was great to watch everybody cut down the nets."
While that was the highlight, he said he will carry many more memories with him. "When you stay somewhere for 15 years, you will have a lot of memories," he continued. "I will miss everybody at Greenfield, the coaching staff, the players. It was a great experience for me and we had some good times."
Nowak currently teaches at Milwaukee Northwest, but in January, he will be at Waukesha County Technical College as an academic support instructor.
The Hawks will be coached for the rest of this season by Ed Mermolia, who has been Nowak's assistant for the past four years. Greenfield will take on Whitnall Tuesday night and will then be off until Jan. 4 when they welcome St. Francis.
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