Mendham hoops coach resigns after 33 years
Jim Baglin, the 10th winningest coach all-time in New Jersey and by far the most successful man to ever coach in Morris County, announced his resignation Friday as Mendham's head basketball coach after 33 seasons.
The 60-year old Baglin, the Minutemen's head man since the 1979-80 season and also the school's athletic director the past 22 years, said the dual role had finally begun to wear on him as the demands of a head athletic coach have increased substantially.
"After 33 years I have decided to resign from being the head basketball coach at Mendham High School," said in a statement to the school administration. "As I have gotten older the demands of being athletic director have grown and I just feel I cannot continue to be the head coach. I am proud of what we have accomplished over the years in basketball but I am more proud of the relationships I have built with the players and entire families."
Mendham established itself as the undisputed king of Morris County and a well-respected program statewide under Baglin's stewardship. He racked up a 685-193 record, led the Minutemen to NJSIAA state titles in 2000 (Group 2) and 2010 (Group 3), won nine Morris County championships and 16 conference crowns. He was Morris and statewide coach of the year several times by various news agencies and also the National High School Federation New Jersey Coach of the Year in 2000.
He consistently fielded hard-working squads that emphasized ball movement, sound defensive principles and team concept. He had a number of recognizable standouts through his tenure--like 2,000-point scorer Jeff Schiffner a dozen years ago and rugged forward Tore Vicarisi more recently--but Baglin mostly won with blue collar-type kids from a predominantly white collar community.
"I have wonderful kids, great support from the school district, great assistant coaches and I even really like the parents of the players," Baglin said. " I love all the kids at the school and not just the basketball players. The support from our students and community members has been one of the real joys of coaching at Mendham."
Mendham's team drew strong support from the student body most years, and that loyalty would be rabid during Mendham's many runs deep into the county and state tournaments. That spoke to the community's fierce support for its own, but also to the popularity of the easy-mannered, keen-witted Baglin among the student body.
Mendham reached the Group 2 final three consecutive years beginning in 1998 and claimed six sectional crowns in North Jersey, Section 2.
To further appreciate Mendham's impact on Morris County basketball under Baglin, consider that only three other schools have ever won a state crown, Mountain Lakes in 1962, Parsippany in '99 and Chatham in '07. Mendham has two in the last 12 years. Also Baglin stands third all-time in the state among public school coaches, behind only Clarence Turner of Camden (775 wins) and Marty Rivard of Cresskill and Bergenfield (707).
Baglin made winning look easy, but obviously it was not. The sport has become an almost year-round responsibility.
"Coaching is a difficult job for a younger man and as I get older I am tired of constantly thinking about it. I found myself thinking about it not only during the season but all year round," he said.
Baglin's final game was a loss to Plainfield last March in the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 final. Plainfield went on the win Group 3 for the second straight year before falling to St. Anthony in the Tournament of Champions final. Baglin grew up in Plainfield and played guard for the Cardinalsm graduating in 1970.
Mike Kinney covers boys basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeKinneyHS