2017-01-12 / Sports

Wilcox out as coach in Northport

North Bay program approved
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

Casey Wilcox shared plans of her resignation with her Northport basketball players on Dec. 2.

To Wilcox, that was the worst part.

“That was a rough day,” she said.

The Spanish teacher and two-sport coach at Northport has accepted a position with Set Seg, a Traverse Citybased nonprofit offering employee benefit solutions to Michigan public schools and their employees. Leon Chimosky, Northport’s JV boys basketball coach, will step in as Wilcox’s full-time replacement effective Jan. 20.

Wilcox doesn’t plan to leave her Lady Wildcats hanging, however.

“By no means is my season over,” she said on Tuesday. “I will still be around and available as much as possible and I’ll see them through until the end of the season. … It has been a great season thus far and I can’t wait to see how they end up.”

Wilcox’s decision has been anything but a distraction.

The program is off to its best start in years, racking off seven straight wins since a season-opening loss at Wolverine in overtime. Six of those seven wins have come since Dec. 2.

“Ultimately, they were awesome about it,” Wilcox said of her girls. “They’re happy for me to make a change and try something different, but it is tough leaving them. I’ve had them in school for eight years and also in both basketball and soccer.”

The Northport girls set a program record for wins on the soccer pitch under Wilcox’s tutelage last season, finishing 6-13 overall.

They’ll look to build on that momentum this spring, albeit under a different coach — and in different uniforms.

The Suttons Bay Board of Education approved on Monday the formation of a North Bay girls soccer program featuring players from Northport, Suttons Bay and Lake Leelanau St. Mary.

Northport Athletic Director Josh Vander Meulen said the decision simply made the most sense for the district.

“We’re going to have to rebuild in some capacity, so is it best to start a program with a new coach or look at ways to develop our co-op relationship with Suttons Bay and St. Mary?” Vander Meulen said. “We decided this was a more sustainable option to have a competitive team for our girls. We know we’ll have strong numbers for the future. It should be an exciting time, as we have the girls and boys model together. The girls are excited.”

News of the North Bay program isn’t official just yet, however.

Suttons Bay AD Doug Periard said the move is pending Michigan High School Athletic Association approval.

“Once we get the OK from the state, we’ll go ahead and move forward,” Periard said on Tuesday. “That’s what we’ve got to find out.”

Tom Spencer, coach of the North Bay boys, is expected to take the reins if the MHSAA approves the merger.

In the meantime, Wilcox and the Wildcats will look to extend their seven game win streak on the hardwood.

Vander Meulen expects the community to wish Wilcox well once basketball season comes to a close.

“Casey has had an instrumental role on not only our girls but our entire school,” Vander Meulen said. “This is not something we necessarily saw as a good thing, but hopefully she finds what she’s looking for in her next profession. There are no hard feelings. She did what she had to and did what she could to help us transition.”

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