After four years spent pacing the sidelines for Darien boys basketball, head coach Kyle Marian has decided to step down.
In a phone interview Friday, the 32-year-old described his decision as "a product of multiple things" and one he cemented upon returning home from his honeymoon Sunday following months of deliberation. Marian submitted his resignation to Darien High School Athletic Director Chris Manfredonia earlier this week and shared his decision to step away with returning Blue Wave players Thursday afternoon.
"If it was one factor, I could tackle that one thing and deal with it," Marian said. "But I just wasn't happy with how basketball fit into my life. It was more a personal decision than anything."
Marian, a Darien High alum, led the Blue Wave to its first state tournament berth in 24 years last March. Darien finished 10-10 in the regular season and upset No. 7 Guilford in the tournament's first round before falling to No. 10 Avon two nights later. Over his first three seasons, the Blue Wave won a total of 11 games during a rebuilding process.
Upon taking time away from the court this spring, Marian began to contemplate a permanent departure. The everyday duties of leading a program had begun to take an accumulated toll, and this sapped passion for the game reappeared when he returned for his summer basketball camps.
"Anytime I did something basketball related, there was just this gut feeling that it wasn't right. There's only been one other time that's happened for me and it was after I had attended four camps in a row one summer as a kid," Marian said. "And if I'm not into (coaching) all the way, I'm not going to cheat the people I'm with by not giving it all I have."
Of course, life's fundamental logistics of time, money and becoming a newlywed also played a role in his decision. Though, ultimately, Marian insists that the personal returns he received from coaching no longer matched the year-round investment the job required, leaving him but one option.
"To me, it's a 12-month thing, but you only get paid three. Whether it's trying to get kids into AAU, coaching AAU or at the high school level, basketball for me is a year-round job. And the reality is when you get married, you start to have some reality checks," Marian explained. "And when I sat down after last season and had to make a pros and cons list, there were a lot of factors creeping into my head."
Additional factors included what the 32-year-old believes to be a changing culture within coaching circles that's evolved into a strict focus on pushing kids to higher levels of basketball instead of true athletic and personal development. Following a three-year varsity career at Darien High School in the early 2000s, Marian moved on to play a year at prep school and four seasons at Springfield College. Next, he moved overseas to play professionally in England and Switzerland, sustained a serious knee injury and made a return home, which ultimately gave way to his coaching career.
"I came in trying to affect our players' lives, be a role model, show them what it takes to win and how to deal with adversities," he said. "At the end of the day, it's just a game. But you can learn a lot from it."
The son of Darien, who continues to work at Middlesex Middle School, originally took the position with the goal of implementing a strong foundation for what had been a floundering program over two decades. Today, Marian believes he's accomplished exactly that.
"I don't have any regrets whatsoever," he said. "I felt like I gave 1,000 percent to build a program and allow players to take what they learned from me on the court and away in their lives off the court. For me, yes it wasn't a championship. But I feel like what I've gained and what I've given to the program is more than what a championship could give anybody. I feel very blessed."
Moving forward, Marian believes the Blue Wave can continue to have success with the players already inside the program, though he does not have any indication as to who his replacement will be.
Darien boys basketball will open its 2014-15 campaign this December.
Manfredonia did not return calls for comment.