Tom Saunches' latest retirement didn't last long.
But unlike the other two times he stepped away from a coaching position, Saunches is also making a move.
The veteran coach will be wearing different colors this winter as he has been named as the new boys basketball coach at LSA on Friday afternoon.
“It is exciting to bring coach Saunches to LSA as he brings a wealth of experience,” LSA athletic director Kurt Younghouse said. “I have been very impressed with the job that he has done with the basketball program the last four years at Argenta-Oreana. We are excited that he still has the itch to coach and build relationships with young men.”
Saunches replaces Dave Kreps, who Younghouse said recently resigned following a single season in his second stint at the high school. In that one season, Kreps guided LSA to a school-record 24 victories.
Younghouse said it always the intention to have Kreps be a short-term bridge.
“We were struggling to find the right person last summer and Dave took this over knowing he was there helping us to find the next guy.” Younghouse said.
The 67-year-old Saunches handed in his letter of resignation at Argenta-Oreana a couple weeks ago after a total of 14 seasons as basketball coach with the Bombers. This past season, Saunches led the team to an 18-11 record and back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1997 and 1998. Those years came during his first stretch as Argenta boys basketball coach, when he lasted 10 seasons.
He left his position this time, he told school officials, to allow them to hire someone who could also teach in the building.
Saunches will continue to coach baseball at Argenta – at least for now – a job he has held for 34 seasons. He also was the school's football coach from 1981-1990 and again from 2002-2010.
But Saunches said basketball was the sport he grew up with.
“I was a basketball coach's kid,” Saunches said. “I told my wife I still had the itch to coach, but I'm not going to search. If something came up where I'm a perfect fit, I would look into it.”
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LSA felt he was that fit. They called Saunches, knowing he lived in the neighborhood and the match was made.
Saunches, who said he takes his regular “old man walks” past the school, was on LSA's radar in part because of his sideline presence.
“The control he had and his soft demeanor I thought was very impressive,” Younghouse said. “I've always been intrigued about Tom as a coach. He has that quiet strength, that Tony Dungy approach.”
So now Argenta looks for a new coach at the same time the school gets close to hiring a new AD to replace Sheehan, who is leaving for Monticello this summer.
“We can only hire who applies,” Sheehan said. “We'll do everything we can to hire the best qualified coach for the position.”
He's hoping the school also won't be looking for a new baseball coach, where Saunches has piled up 14 regional titles and three state tournament appearances and has 569 career victories.
“He's still our baseball coach and I don't anticipate any changes,” Sheehan said.
Younghouse said he hasn't talked to Saunches about a baseball move. Tuesday's hire was about basketball only. There was no teaching position involved either.
“I think everybody in the county would be open to having him help them with their baseball teams,” Younghouse said.
“We're not looking at that. Right now he's the Argenta coach.”
The hire means LSA will have two new coaches for basketball. John Stock was named as girls basketball coach earlier this spring.