By Sean Chase
After two seasons at the helm of the Grand Rapids Community College men’s basketball team, and 27 years as a coach, Jeff Bauer has stepped down from his head coaching duties to spend time with his family.
“At this point in life, I feel like it’s more important to take care of my kids,” Bauer said. “When I took the job, we had two (kids) and then that was kinda pushing the limits, but it was still kinda doable. I have a teaching job, and I have an online teaching job that I do, and everything was still kind of working, and then kind of unexpected we had our third kid in September and things got a little wacky after that.”
During his tenure, Bauer’s teams qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II, Region XII Great Lakes tournament twice, as he finished with a 21-24 record at GRCC.
“I got out of the four-year coaching, five years ago, to be a dad and be around,” Bauer said. “The good thing about recruiting in the junior college world is, for the most part, you don’t have to leave town so you can be home. We’ve got now a 4-year-old, a 2 ½ -year-old, and a 7-month-old and I was just taking too much time away from them to go do the thing at GRCC.”
The 2020-2021 season presented a variety of challenges as COVID-19 forced the GRCC administration and basketball program to adapt their procedures to ensure the safety of the athletes.
“This was an easy year, quite frankly, on the family because of the fact that the school only let us have four contact days,” Bauer said. “We were only going four days a week, so I was home a little bit more then I would be in a regular year, where we’d be going five, maybe six days a week. And still, I just felt bad missing stuff and trying to be there for my kids.”
While the move seems sudden to many, Bauer had spoken with GRCC’s Interim Athletic Director David Selmon prior to the start of the delayed 2021 season, about the difficulties of managing multiple jobs, and being present for his family.
“I’m not surprised that Jeff has made that decision,” Selmon said. “I’m happy for him and his family, because they’ll see more of each other. I think that’s the most important thing for him right now in his life, not saying he can’t come back to coaching, but I respect his decision, accept his resignation, given those facts, and hopefully one day he can come back to the collegiate ranks, or higher, and coach.”
Now that Selmon has returned from the NJCAA DII women’s national tournament, he will turn his attention to filling the coaching vacancy with someone who can take over leadership of one of GRCC’s most successful programs.
While coaching is no longer on the forefront of Bauer’s mind, he isn’t ruling out a return to the court later in life.
“Yeah, I’d love that, if the Lord opens a door, then absolutely,” Bauer said, when asked about returning to coaching in the future. “It feels good right now not having the stress of running a program, and making sure kids are doing what they need to do, so it’s great right now. That’s kinda been my lifestyle for almost three decades, so I know at some point I’m gonna want to do it again. We’ll see where it goes, but right now I’m good. There are a couple high school jobs popping open, and I’m just not interested, I’m gonna chill with the family here.”