WHEELING - After 32 years on the bench, John Marshall basketball coach Bill Storm has decided to hang up his whistle.
Storm spent a bulk of his coaching career at his alma mater, including the last eight as the head coach.
"It was time," the long-time area hoops coach said Monday evening.
"I actually thought about it last year but I wasn't sure I was ready," Storm said. "But I told my assistants and the principal that this was going to be my last year. We had some success here and I'm proud of that. We always had great kids, and that makes it difficult but it was time to go."
Storm began his career as an eighth grade coach at Moundsville Middle School - right out of college - and moved up to an assistant at John Marshall in 1982, where he served under Digger O'Dell and later Pancho Flores.
He took over the head coaching position in 2007.
His first team won just seven games but the seed of success had been planted.
"We had a lot of good sophomores and we kept them down on JV for most of the year," Storm said. "We wanted them to learn how to win."
The next season they did just that, beating rival Wheeling Park in the sectional tournament, and then battling Morgantown tooth and nail before finally getting knocked out in the regional final.
That set the stage for his best year, 2009.
The Monarchs, as a team, enjoyed their finest season, winning 19 games and advancing to their only state tournament appearance.
The season didn't start on a high note.
They were originally scheduled to play Woodrow Wilson in a tournament at the Charleston Civic Center. Due to a scheduling conflict, the Monarchs ended up playing a team from Beckley, but not the perennial power.
They met Mountain State Academy, a private school that boosted the likes of future Mountaineer Deniz Kilicli and future state player of the year Noah Cottrill and Division I signee Jabs Newby,
"The kids did a lot of studying on that team and they were very talented," Storm said. "We go down and end up losing our starting point guard, Brock Melko (who was one of Storms assistants this year) to a shattered knee. But we hung in that game. We lost by 11 points but the fact that we were able to play with them, and play in that venue, which is something we wanted to do, gave our kids a lot of confidence."
They went on to win 19 games, and met Martinsburg in the first round of the state tournament back in Charleston.
The Monarchs led most of the game but faltered near the end when Isaac Thornton, who went on to star at Fairmont, got hot.
Martinsburg went on to win its second state championship.
Storm also noted the team had success in the OVAC Tournament during that stretch, making it to the finals of the Classs 5A Tournament. They would lose to Indian Creek in 2008 and also lost to some talented Wheeling Park teams in three other finals.
Obviously, leaving the camaraderie will be hard.
"Being around the other coaches and meeting people from around the state was always great," Storm said. "My wife kept the book, and she liked doing that, so it was always like a family affair. You work up a lot of friendships and that is what makes this job enjoyable.
"It was something I always wanted to do, it's why I got into teaching. To be able to do it at home was great. I couldn't have asked for more."
Storm had four winning seasons and four losing seasons in his eight years on the bench.