Altemose steps down from MUHS hoops coaching job after 15 years
MIDDLEBURY — After 15 years of coaching varsity boys’ basketball at Middlebury Union High School, MUHS physical education teacher Chris Altemose has decided to step down from that job to spend more time with his wife and young children, 10 and 6, but not entirely give up coaching.
Altemose for the past two years has been coaching his 10-year-old daughter’s 3rd- and 4th-grade basketball team, and he plans to move up the ladder with her and her teammates to the 5th- and 6th-grade level.
“I’m going to be coaching her and her friends, which will be fun,” said Altemose, who is also eyeing the chance to coach his son’s hoop teams in a couple years.
The fact that Altemose will still be in the gym made it a little easier for MUHS activities director Sean Farrell to accept losing a longtime coach who has run a program that has been competitive: In the past decade, the Tigers have had five winning seasons. In the past three years, Altemose’s teams went 41-21. This past winter they were 16-5 and went undefeated in the Lake Division, claiming the league title and earning him the Lake Division Coach of the Year honor.
“He’s going to spend time with his kids and even coaching at the youth level with his children. As an AD it’s a plus for me that he’s going to be down there,” Farrell said. “It’s a negative I’m losing him at this level, but it’s also great to have him down at the youth level to have him hopefully inspire some younger kids to get involved.”
Altemose, 40, said it was a hard decision to step down, even though there are compelling reasons to do so.
“The biggest one was I don’t want to regret down the road not spending time with my own children while they’re still young,” he said. “Spending more time with my family, being more present with my family and my kids, getting a chance to coach my own kids, I told the high school guys you only get one chance in your life to do this with your own kids, and this is my chance. So hopefully they can respect that. They all said they did.”
Altemose said he would miss the competition, but more than that establishing bonds with his players.
“I loved going to practice and building the relationships with those guys at a higher level than I ever get in teaching. You’re with 12 guys two hours a day, if not more, for three months, and you get to know them pretty well,” Altemose said.
Farrell said Altemose had not only the multi-year commitment that is important to a program’s success, but also the “intangibles” MUHS looks for in coaches.
“We talk about that all the time here,” he said. “The goal is for these kids to develop as young men and women, and Chris, again, by having contact with these kids day in and day out, has the ability to have those sit-down conversations with our athletes and talk about the struggles that they’re having and help them develop as individuals. We’ve had some kids who have had hardships, and Chris has been right there to work with the kids and support them.”
In the past couple of years, Altemose has hustled from MUHS to his daughter’s team’s practices, and then back to MUHS for his varsity obligations. He began to want to simplify his schedule, and he did truly enjoy working with the younger athletes as well as the high school students.
“It’s been a little crazy, but I love going to their practices. They’re sponges. Everything, they just soak it right up,” he said.
And those high school team commitments meant time away from the family during Christmas holidays and even just during routine evenings and weekends.
“I don’t want to regret not having given it the time while they’re still here and while they still want me around,” Altemose said.
He laughed and admitted there is some skepticism within his family.
“My wife is nervous. She thinks I’m going to go nuts this winter,” Altemose said. “But I want to give it a chance. I don’t want to ever wonder if I should have.”
And he said down the road, especially when his children are older, he would definitely consider returning to a high school coaching gig.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a few years now,” Altemose said. “It’s a hard one for me. I’ve struggled with it. There is still so much about coaching high school guys that I really love and that I’ll miss. And I can definitely see myself doing it again a few years down the road.”
Regardless, he will look back fondly on the past 15 years.
“We’ve had some good teams over the years. We’ve had some great teams that had bad records,” Altemose said. “I’ve had some fun with the guys over the years. Just to have the chance to have those moments, those memories, with all those kids is something that I’ll be holding onto, for sure.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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