Citing increased family responsibilities, Belleville East boys basketball coach Abel Schrader resigned Friday after five seasons.
Schrader, 37, was 86-57 and won a regional championship in 2014. The Lancers were 16-13 overall and 6-8 in the Southwestern Conference in the 2016-17 season.
Schrader, a health and physical education teacher at East, issued the following statement about his resignation:
“I want to thank the administration and athletic departments at District 201 for the opportunity to coach basketball and (for) their support for the past 14 years, specifically the past five years as the head coach at Belleville East,” Schrader said. “The decision to step down as the head coach is based solely on what I feel is in the best interest for me and my family at this point in our lives.
“My wife (Rebecca) and I had our third child one week before the season started this year. His addition has made the day-to-day grind of the season challenging, plus this also allows me to be much more involved in my two other children’s activities, which is very important to me.
“Lastly, I want to thank my assistant coaches, and the players and parents who were supportive for their time, effort and commitment to our teams over the years. Next year’s team will have some returning players with potential to be very competitive, and I look forward to seeing their success under a new head coach.”
Schrader played for Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dave Luechtefeld at Okawville, from where Schrader graduated in 1997. Schrader then played for coaches Rich Herrin and Bruce Weber at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
The Schraders’ children are between the ages of 8, 5 and 4 1/2 months.
“Throughout this process I’ve talked to several people, and they say the years do go by very quickly,” Schrader said. “Before long, (the kids) are old and grown. You want to enjoy them while they’re here.”
In his first year at East, Schrader coached Malcolm Hill when Hill was a senior. Hill recently completed a stellar career at Illinois, where he scored 1,846 points and grabbed 647 rebounds. Schrader has coached Javon Pickett the last four years. Pickett has signed to play for the Illini.
“Those were two special kids in terms of their talent levels,” Schrader said. “I did not miss an Illinois game on TV watching Malcolm, and I don’t plan on missing one watching Javon.”
Schrader said he will remember all his players.
“I had some good relationships with the kids, and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Schrader said coaching in the SWC, one of the best leagues in the state, was “a lot of fun.”
“(But) there’s some stress there because you’re going against really good players and really good coaches,” he said. “People don’t realize how good our conference is and how tough it is to win games. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to get to do it.”