Coach Joe B. Stewart is pictured in a game at Miami Trace during the 2021-22 season. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Coach Joe B. Stewart is pictured in a game at Miami Trace during the 2021-22 season. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Coach Joe B. Stewart announced Friday morning that he is stepping down after four seasons at the helm of the McClain boys basketball program.

The following is his statement:

On several occasions during my travel with Athletes In Action, I have heard International Director Eric Nelson speak on the importance of “coaching self” in order to have the ability to successfully lead others authentically. One of the concepts I teach in our program is my father’s mantra that “Satisfaction is the enemy of improvement.”

The calendar turning to May is the normal time I find myself reenergized for another year of leading young men at McClain on a journey to living their best self and chasing excellence to represent our school and community in a class manner on our basketball floor.

But what I have found, instead, is a deep and real satisfaction looking back over the four-year mission began May 20, 2018, with my hiring to rebuild our McClain basketball program to a place of pride in our community and respect throughout southern Ohio.

Inheriting a three-win varsity team and no winning teams in the high school program, we assembled a coaching staff that instituted a culture of core values, implemented a proven basketball curriculum and connected our community to our mission to “Deserve Victory Daily.”

My experience as an athlete at McClain in the 1970s, followed by my preparation gained from mentors and experiences throughout a career as a head coach beginning in 1982, led me to believe in a big picture coaching approach to teach that obstacles are meant to be overcome, fear is meant to be conquered, and that success is meant to be achieved would connect with the young people at my alma mater, as I had long believed it would. Our results speak for themselves.

Our 2021-22 varsity squad culminated our fourth year of service here with our first-ever Frontier Athletic Conference championship. In the weeks that followed, a sectional tournament title was added, and then McClain’s first district championship and regional berth in 17 years. Not only the high school, but our elementary schools and community, were energized in support of our hardworking team and hard-earned success.

Three of our four varsity teams achieved winning seasons, with our FAC’s youngest squad in 2019-20 the only exception. I humbly and gratefully understand that the notoriety of a coach is predicated on his team’s ability to execute under pressure, and our players’ effort and execution allowed me to be blessed with District Coach of the Year honors from my coaching peers or Southeast District media in two of my four years here.

Presently, at a time I expected a renewed spirit and energy to continue chasing new challenges, I have instead not moved beyond the gratitude I feel to our young people and the satisfaction with their progress, accomplishments and the experience of our community coming to life again.

Four years ago, I promised Superintendent Wills, his administration and Board of Education that McClain basketball would provide the best class in our school for boys to become men, young men to truly pursue excellence, and produce great memories of their McClain education while providing competitive teams that would make our community proud.

This we have done, and for the second consecutive year, our staff produced winning teams at each level of the high school program — varsity, JV and freshman. I am thankful for that opportunity.

A great group of assistant coaches; Coach Marcus Coleman who was with me and our varsity each day of my four-year tenure; and our community that last spring assured that we could see this mission through to completion, but most notably, thanks to our varsity student-athletes who invested their hearts and hustle toward that end: Devin Carter, Ethan Cockerill, Kobe Penwell, Zane Mustard, Trevor Newkirk, Trevor Tite, Reece Schluep, Garrison Banks, Patrick Fout, Dakota Pollock, Theo DeHecq, Camden Closson, Lyle White, Preston Saunders, Bryson Badgley, Jase Allison, Isaac Carroll, Evann Mischal, Seth Wise, Braden Wright, Kendyll Toney, Wesley Potts, Chris Starkey, Trey Badgley, Gavin Warren and Andrew Potts, as well as student assistants Karl Bradley and S.J. Adkins.

The memories I share with them and the satisfaction I feel with their accomplishments as people, athletes and teams that came together unselfishly to accomplish deeds greater than the sum of their parts provides me with a contentment that I have delivered on those promises made four years ago. The experience of celebrating a district championship as a Tiger player in 1975 and then as a Tiger coach 47 years later for me completes a long journey in a rewarding way.

I believe that peace of mind is rarely found in a past remembered, or a future imagined; rather, it is found in our willingness to embrace the gift of this present moment with the knowledge that we have done our best to be the best we were capable of becoming. In so doing, I’m appreciative of the love and sacrifices of my wife, Debbi, and believe there are other roles and goals ahead that I can find fulfilling and valuable.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have served my alma mater, our School of Beauty, as head basketball coach and the support I have received from all ages throughout our Tiger Nation.