In eight seasons at Marian Catholic, girls basketball coach Annie Byrne absorbed 51 losses — most against the very best competition, many in important games.
None of them were as difficult to deal with as delivering the news Thursday to her players that she would not be there to help them defend the Class 4A state title they won together in 2013.
"How do you disappoint the girls you've grown to love?" Byrne said. "I love my girls. … and I feel like I disappointed them by leaving.
"But it's like we always talked about — how basketball teaches life lessons. Life is full of tough decisions, and I'm not leaving them to go coach someone else — I just told them I had to make a financial decision for my family."
Byrne, also Marian's associate athletic director, resigned to accept the position as director of operations at Legends Sportsplex in Bourbonnais.
"I'm not a teacher, so fitting into the high school system has always been a little tricky for me," Byrne said. "It was just really an economic decision, an opportunity financially I could not pass up."
Byrne leaves as Marian's all-time winningest girls basketball coach, going 216-51, including 33-1 last season, as the Spartans won their first girls basketball state title. Her teams also won eight regional and six sectional titles, and made two other state tournament appearances.
"I just want to thank everyone at Marian for all they've done for me," Byrne said. "The teachers, the administrators, (athletic director) Dave Mattio. I believe in everything Marian stands for."
Marian announced Friday it is seeking candidates to replace Byrne. Those interested will need a valid teaching certificate or ACEP certification. Head coaching experience at the high school level or higher is strongly encouraged.
Candidates may seek more information or submit resumes and references to Principal Sister Kathleen Anne Tait, 700 Ashland Ave., Chicago Heights, IL, 60411, or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.