J’Ontar Coleman made one of those decision that on the surface seems out of the ordinary, but in reality shows just how grounded he is as a man.
Coleman resigned in July as Desert Vista’s girls basketball coach after winning the Division I state title in his lone full year as a head coach.
“I prayed on it, talked to Dr. (Anna) Battle and some other people and everyone said you have to do what you need to,” Coleman said. “I love my team to death, but I need to be with my family.”
Coleman and his wife, Secora, have five children, including quadruplets at the age of 2 and a soon-to-be 9 year-old in Jasmine.
“It’s just where my attention needs to be right now,” Coleman said. “I’m not done coaching forever. It’s on the back burner. Being with my family is more important right now.”
Coleman helped lead the Thunder to their first state title in February after originally taking over the program on January 10, 2013, when Jaysie Chambers-Sheppard was suspended and eventually fired a few months into her tenure.
Coleman, who was the junior varsity coach, was picked to take over midseason and then was named the head coach after the school went through the interview process.
It turned out to be a great decision as Coleman had the right rapport with the girls to push them to the state championship.
“It was a surprise when he came to us, but it was for a good reason,” Thunder athletic director T.J Snyder said. “I know being away from his family so much last year … weighed pretty heavy on him. He was struggling with priorities and putting family first. I totally respect and admire him for it.
“He came in during a rough stretch and he did a great job.”
And he has a big old championship ring to show for it.
“I was feeling down, but someone said you put everything into that one year and got a state championship,” Coleman said. “I talked to some of the parents and they thanked me for bringing the program back to where it belongs, so that makes it a little easier.”
The Thunder will have their third head coach since Rachel Proudfoot resigned in June 2012.
The job was posted last week along with the softball coaching gig after K’Lee Arredondo resigned after one year as well.
The new girls basketball coach will have seven players who were on the roster last year including Cal commit Kristine Anigwe and Arizona State commit Sabrina Haines.
“It was very tough news,” Haines said. “Coach Jon meant a lot to my team and I. He was a great mentor, coach and friend. We were all a family. He was a great coach. I believe that our new coach is getting a motivated and determined team. We are looking to have another successful season and we are all excited to hear who we are spending it with.”
Desert Vista will be considered one of the top contenders, and the new coach will walk into a very good situation.
“We, and I still say we because I am part of that team, should be among the one or two top teams,” Coleman said. “I’d tell the new coach, whoever they hire, to let them play basketball and focus on defense. I knew we had the offense, and they will again this year, so I just wanted to focus on defense, communicate and get everyone the same common ground.
“It seemed to work.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.