LEGENDARY Ballarat basketball playing and coaching figure Eric Hayes has chosen to step aside from his role, deciding not to re-apply for the head coach of the Ballarat Rush as the club looks to a new direction in season 2022.
Hayes, who has led the Rush for the past four years, and before that the Ballarat Miners for three years ,is keen to spend more time with his family after two years essentially ruined by the pandemic.
One of the most revered figures of Ballarat Basketball, Hayes first arrived in Ballarat in 1991 and has remained a loyal and respected figure in the sport ever since.
READ MORE SPORT:
Hayes had been encouraged by the club to re-apply for his position should he wish to continue, however discussion between himself and the club, and the quality of the applicants received for the role, had given him the confidence that now was the best time to step aside.
"It just seemed like the right time to do it," he said. "There were some different things happening, my son has just gone to the States, my daughter has bought a house, other things are happening within our family.
"My daughter played last season having been away from the game for three years, and I only really got a chance to see her play a few times because we were playing in opposite places. I didn't want to continue missing out on opportunities.
"In truth, with everything that's happened the past couple of years, you do start thinking about things differently."
The club is expected to announce its new appointment before the end of the month with Hayes saying the most important aspect would be for them to be a good person who was prepared to encourage local players.
"You've got to get a coach who's a quality person who is knowledgeable in order to help the program to grow," he said.
"I was incredibly encouraged that apart from Alicia (Froling) and later in the season Jaz (Simmons), our team was all local girls who we were able to give some great opportunities to.
"I think it's important a new coach continues giving those opportunities but can bring in those needed from the outside to make sure the team remains competitive going forward."
Hayes said he would continue to be involved where he could and would always be available to assist if needed.
He said he felt blessed to have had a more than 30-year association with the club and to leave it on good terms where both parties respected each other's decisions going forward.
Bsketball Ballarat chief executive Neville Ivey said would always be a legend of the club and would be welcome back at any time.
"He first became part of the Ballarat Miners as an import player and ultimately choose to stay in Ballarat where he became a Ballarat Miner legend, holding records for most club games and points scored for Ballarat and second in the league for all time points," he said.
"I wish Eric all the best for the future and would like to acknowledge and congratulate him on the role he has played as both player and coach in getting the program be where it is today," he said.