After coaching softball for three seasons at Crown Point High School, Pete Iussig believes it is time to move on.
The school officially announced his plans of retirement Tuesday.
Throughout his 28-year head coaching career, which began at Lowell in 1990, Iussig amassed a 524-293-1 overall record, six sectional titles, four regional championships, one semistate title and one state final victory. He was also named the District 1 and state Coach of the Year by the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association in 2014.
The 1973 Merrillville graduate has previously retired following the 2010 and 2015 seasons with the Red Devils, but he's certain that his days in the dugout and down the third-base line are finally over.
“This is the last time, absolutely,” said Iussig, who retired from teaching social studies at Lowell Middle School in 2016. “There’s probably three major factors. I’m getting older, the weather is just taking it out of me, and I’m just tired of making decisions. I’m 63. I’m retired. I shouldn’t have to be making decisions anymore. That’s basically what it is. It’s that simple.”
Throughout his career, Iussig said he accomplished everything he could’ve imagined, and he gives all of the credit to his players and coaching staff. The 2011 Indiana Softball Hall of Fame inductee doesn’t think that he would have lasted nearly three decades without their support and dedication.
When he began his career at Lowell, Iussig said he was a little more hardnosed than he is now. He thanks his daughter, who graduated from Valparaiso High School last year, for giving him a new perspective and helping him become a better coach.
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“I was coaching baseball for 10 years before I even got into softball,” Iussig said. “I basically have coached for 40 years, and she came along 19 years ago. So she was pretty much right in the middle, and when I became a parent, I toned it down drastically in terms of being more laidback. I became much more concerned with the person rather than the player.”
Iussig turned in his resignation roughly two weeks ago, while Crown Point athletic director Bill Dorulla was on vacation, and mailed letters to his players last weekend announcing his retirement. After returning from vacation, Dorulla said he tried to get Iussig to reconsider. However, he respects Iussig’s decision.
In addition to the success that Iussig brought to the program, Dorulla also said he will miss Iussig’s dedication to the Bulldogs’ field. There were several games during the past three years that Dorulla thinks wouldn’t have been played without Iussig coming early and making sure that everything was up to par.
“We were lucky to get a coach of Pete’s caliber at Crown Point,” Dorulla said. “He brought a tremendous amount of leadership and knowledge to the program. Pete is just the epitome of what a great coach is all about — teaching the kids right, teaching fundamentals and great game strategies. We knew it was going to be a short time when we hired him, and we were hoping for longer.”
Iussig led the Bulldogs to its only state championship during his first year with the team in 2017.
Jim Chancellor, Iussig’s longtime assistant coach, is also retiring after 18 seasons with Iussig at Lowell and Crown Point, and Dorulla said that they both have left a lasting impact on the program. He added that the Bulldogs will begin searching for a new head coach soon, evaluating candidates internally and externally, and hopes to have the position filled before another school year begins in the fall.
“We wanted to get through this first and do this right,” Dorulla said. “We’ll post the job and take applications that will be sent to me, and we’ll try to get the best possible coach that we can get. We have a tremendous amount of talent coming back.”