Mundeleins Dick Knar, here celebrating after a sectional semifinal victory, is backing away from coaching at Mundelein.
Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer
For the first time in 46 years, Dick Knar had no use for his whistle.
I opened my drawer the other day and saw my whistle in there and it was weird for a minute, Knar said. It was like, Oh yeah, I dont need that anymore.
On Sunday, Knar announced at the conclusion of his teams end-of-season banquet that he would be retiring as the boys varsity basketball coach at Mundelein High School. Knar completed his 16th season overall and his ninth season at Mundelein earlier this month with the sixth regional championship of his career.
The 49-year-old Knar, who got his first whistle at age 3 and used it liberally at the practices conducted by his father Richard, a longtime high school and junior college coach in Wisconsin, also rolled up a total of 266 victories as well as two conference championships and one sectional title.
His Mundelein teams went 154-124, including 18-14 this season.
Ive always had a whistle and Ive always either been a coach or I wanted to be a coach, said Knar, who will remain a dean of students at Mundelein. When I was little, I dressed like my dad, I followed him around at his practices with my whistle. He let me blow the whistle whenever I wanted. Then, when I was older, I became his team manager.
Ive just always grown up around basketball and this will be a big change because I kind of feel like Ive never been anything but a coach.
Overall, Knar has put 26 years into coaching at both the high school and collegiate levels, as an assistant and head coach. Before coming to Mundelein, Knar was a coach at Northridge Prep as well as at Northeastern University.
It was a very emotional moment when I told everyone at the banquet about my decision, but a lot of thought went into this, Knar said. I told (Mundelein athletic director) Perry (Wilhelm) about three weeks ago that I was pretty sure I was going to retire and he had always told me that if I started thinking about other things besides coaching that maybe it was the right time to think about retirement.
Ive been thinking about a lot of other things lately.
Knar has been focused on his dad, who is now 77 and has been suffering with dementia. Knar has also been lamenting the lack of opportunities hes had this season to watch his older children play basketball at the collegiate level.
He didnt see any of daughter Tonis games at Missouri S&T this season in person. And he saw only three of son Dickies games at Marian University, which is only a two-hour drive from Mundelein.
It makes me feel like, Wow, what a bad dad Ive been, said Knar, whose youngest son Robert finished his senior season at Mundelein this winter as the programs all-time leading scorer with 2,003 points. Its hard to get away and see (Toni and Dickie, twins who are both college juniors) during basketball season and I want to do that while I still can. And Robert is going to be playing next year, too (at Northern Iowa).
My own health isnt that good either. Ive got heart disease in my family. My dad has already had two heart attacks. I need to lose weight and thats hard for me to do during basketball season. Ive got to start taking better care of myself.
While Knar works to take better care of his heart, it still could end up breaking on him. He already knows hes going to be sad come next basketball season. Its not going to be easy for him to be looking in from the outside.
Im very close to the kids in our program and I know a lot of the kids in our feeder program and I live in the community and I see these kids all the time, Knar said. When Nov. 5 comes around and practice starts and I hear those balls bouncing in the gym, its going to be hard. This is new territory for me and Ill be nervous about how Ill handle that.
But Ill be keeping busy with my own kids and traveling to see them. This is the right decision.
But is it Knars final decision?
Well, I guess you never know. My dad always told me to keep the door open, Knar said. But as far as Im concerned right now, I dont plan on doing any Brett Favres (un-retiring) any time soon.
Dick Knar compiled a 154-124 record in his nine seasons as Mundeleins boys basketball coach.