A coaching icon is hanging up his whistle.
Legendary New Haven High School boys basketball coach Ray Steinhoff announced that he will retire following the 2013-14 school year.
Steinhoff informed his assistant coaches of his decision on Tuesday and told his players Wednesday night.
“I’ve been asked constantly about retirement for the last couple of years by a lot of people, not just in New Haven, but from all over the area. So I don’t think anyone is that surprised,” Steinhoff said. “I’ve been kicking it around for a while. I made up my mind around the beginning of the basketball season and that’s when I told our administration that I was confident that this would be it. I wanted to wait until the season was over to announce it because I didn’t want to take anything away from the kids.”
Steinhoff explained his decision to retire.
“It’s mostly family reasons. I have a couple of grandchildren who live quite a way from here and they’re not going to be able to get here very often because it gets too expensive,” Steinhoff said. “We’d like to go there during the holidays, but that’s a busy time for basketball coaches. My wife (Ruth) goes there during the fall and spring, but that’s another busy time that I can’t make.”
Steinhoff was referring to his son, Ryan, who lives with his family in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Rachel Steinhoff, the daughter of Ray and Ruth, will graduate this year from New Haven High School and attend Truman State University in Kirksville, where she will play basketball.
“When Rachel signed with Truman in November, I really started to think seriously about retiring,” Steinhoff said. “Kirksville is far enough away where it would be hard to see her play if I were still coaching.”
Between Ryan and Rachel, things just added up for Steinhoff to retire.
“If I chose not to retire now, there would be too many things that I would regret missing,” Steinhoff said. “Thirty years is a long time in coaching. I’ve seen a lot of other coaches come and go. A change might be good for the kids and the program.”
Steinhoff, 55, has been at New Haven for 34 years as a physical education teacher. He started his career as an assistant basketball coach, spending one season under Dave Hackmann and three seasons under Steve Neier.
Steinhoff became New Haven’s head boys basketball coach and athletic director during the 1984-85 school year.
In his 30 years as head coach, Steinhoff accumulated an overall record of 550 wins and 288 losses.
“I think I remember more of those 288 losses than the 550 wins,” Steinhoff said.
Steinhoff led the Shamrocks to three state championships (1997, 1999 and 2001), four Final Four appearances (third place in 1998) and 11 district titles.
His 11th district championship came this season, on the very court that was named after him, against Elsberry.
“The way we played that night against Elsberry was the way I wanted our program to look,” Steinhoff said. “I went out with a great group of kids.”
Steinhoff was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
“I’m forever indebted to my assistant coaches. Tim Strobel was with me for over 20 years. Derek Bailey played for me and has been with me forever. Aaron Peirick is one of my assistant coaches now,” Steinhoff said. “I’m really going to miss practice. I love to practice and I love preparing for practice and preparing for games, probably more than the games themselves.”
There are plenty of other things Steinhoff will miss.
“I’ll miss the competition. That will be hard to replace,” he said. “I’ll miss the relationship with the kids, especially the basketball players, but also the kids in my PE class. I love teaching PE.
New Haven’s boys basketball program was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
“The tradition was here before I started. It’s easier to rekindle the tradition, like I did, rather than to start a tradition. It was hard at times, but I’ve been very fortunate,” Steinhoff said. “My three state championships were a thrill and something I’ll always remember. But I’ll also remember the teams that played to their potential, which always weren’t the state teams. Those kids also gave their hearts and souls to the program.”
In addition to spending time with his family, Steinhoff said he’ll continue to live in New Haven and hopes to somehow be involved with the school district.
“I’m not sure how I’ll handle retirement. I’m not sure I’ll like it,” he said. “I’m still relatively young. I started teaching and coaching when I was 21. I feel good and enthusiastic.”
Steinhoff cherishes the time he’s spent at New Haven.
“It’s been a great 34 years. We’ve had tremendous support from the community,” Steinhoff said. “New Haven is a great school. When you walk in the high school, you can tell it’s well taken care of, and that’s a credit to the kids. We have strong academics and great kids and teachers. For such a small school, it’s a great place to be.”