Crystal Lake South's Scott Busam couldn't have imagined a much better ending to his 15-plus-year softball coaching career.
The Gators won their first 19 games last season and won the Fox Valley Conference championship, setting the team record for wins in a season with a 32-3 record. The outright conference title was the first for South since 1986.
South won its first regional title since 2008 before losing to eventual Class 3A state champion Sycamore, 5-4, in eight innings in the sectional semifinals. One of South's other losses was to the eventual Class 4A state champion, Huntley.
Busam, who went 285-167 in 15 seasons, becoming the team's all-time winningest coach, resigned last week. He continues in his English teaching position at South.
"Outside of a storybook state championship ending, I can’t imagine a better way to go out," Busam said. "When I look back at it, a 19-game win streak (to start the season) and the most wins in school history. We accomplished more than almost any other team in South history. It was kind of surreal."
By resigning, Busam, 40, will have more time to spend with his wife, Nicole, and children, Addison, 12, and Maddux, 8.
"I spent a lot of time talking with (assistant coach) Mark (Hardie), my wife, and (South athletic director) Jason Bott, and decided, finally, it’s time," Busam said. "I have some outside ventures that I’m interested in getting involved with. I’ve missed a lot. Now, it's time to start coaching my kids, hand the reins to fresh blood and let them take a shot at it."
Busam took over for Jim Rosenberg in 2005. The season before, South went 6-14. In Busam's third year, the Gators won 26 games and a Class AA regional title. The next year, South won a 4A regional title.
"When I took over, we were the perennial doormat," Busam said. "We played on a limestone infield. There were no dugouts. There was no scoreboard, and there no fence lines. Honestly, the program was in pretty rough shape. ... I desperately wanted to turn it around. Over the years, we managed to do it."
Busam said he will miss the many relationships he built with players and coaches from around the FVC.
"I’ve gone to weddings. I have former students who are moms now," Busam said." When I was a young coach, I remember announcing after a regional victory that my wife was pregnant with our first kid, and they threw us a baby shower. It’s the relationships that I'll remember most. Even the FVC coaches I’ve coached against over the years."
South graduated seven from last year's team, but Busam believes the Gators, and whoever takes over, will be in good shape going forward.
"The thing that was best about that senior class was how reliable, trustworthy and hardworking they were," Busam said. "They were full of positive energy and excitement. I'm confident every single one of them is going to be successful, just wonderful people.
"I think more important than wins and losses, I really just want to see the program continue to be competitive and respected," Busam said. "When the kids graduate, they can look back at and say, 'I've gained a lot, both in character and sportsmanship.' Just a lot of memories. ... It's going to be important for them to carry on that tradition."