ELKHART — Mark Barnhizer, never afraid to switch defenses in the heat of battle or to run his offense through an obvious lead option, isn't afraid this time, either.
Two years removed from orchestrating the winningest season in Elkhart Memorial boys basketball history, Barnhizer has stepped down as Crimson Charger head coach — despite not already having another job lined up.
"I just think I need a change, and I think Memorial needs a change," Barnhizer said Tuesday, April 29.
"I'm kind of looking for another job," Barnhizer acknowledged. "I don't think (coaching's) out of my system, I don't anticipate not coaching and I think my future's bright, but I am old enough to retire and it's not like I can't feed my family if I don't ever coach another day."
Barnhizer, 57, a health teacher at North Side Middle School, has not resigned from his teaching position with Elkhart Community Schools.
Elkhart Memorial Coaching History
Coach (Years) W-L Pct.
Jim Powers (4) 53-38 .582
Jack Ford (2) 12-32 .273
Steve Johnson (5) 92-24 .793
Larry Bilger (5) 52-57 .477
John Wysong (6) 57-76 .429
S. Johnson (12) 123-127 .492
M. Barnhizer (8) 103-75 .579
"The dynamics of the (coaching) job have changed here in the last couple years here," Barnhizer said. "I think some people here look at it one way and I look at it another way, and those philosophies don't match. I think somebody who looks at it a little different than me might be better for the job. I also think Memorial's going to have an opportunity to be pretty good next year. They've got nine kids coming back who started games."
"Coach Barnhizer has been working with our boys for eight years," Memorial principal Mark Tobolski said in a statement released Tuesday by ECS. "During that time, the program has seen some success, and we're very thankful for Coach's dedication to our program. We wish him well."
Barnhizer's resignation means that the boys basketball head coaching jobs at both Elkhart public high schools are vacant in the same year for the first time since the schools opened in 1972. Troy Noble resigned as Central coach March 7.
Both jobs were posted Tuesday on the ECS website. The application deadline for each is May 9.
Doug Thorne, executive director of personnel and legal services, said a single screening committee to handle applications for both jobs is being formed.
"We hope to have (hiring recommendations) finalized by the first board meeting in June," Thorne said of a meeting that is set for June 10. "That's our goal. Whether we can accomplish that I don't know."
Barnhizer guided the Chargers to a 103-75 record over eight seasons with two sectional titles and a regional crown.
He also demonstrated a knack for helping develop Division I-ready players. Over the last six years, he has produced four NCAA DI individuals — Karvel Anderson (class of 2009), Michael Kibiloski (2010), Todd Johnson (2012) and Markese McGuire (2013) — while the other nine IHSAA schools in Elkhart County have combined to produce two.
Johnson and McGuire were members of that 2011-12 team that went 24-2 for the best mark in Memorial's 42-year history. The Chargers swept through the Northern Lakes Conference, won the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional and added a pair of wins at Michigan City for the program's first regional crown in 23 years before narrowly falling to eventual state champ Carmel 62-59 in the 4A northern semistate.
"I loved those guys,"said Barnhizer, who was voted Area Coach of the Year that season. "They were a great group to coach. They practiced every day, and when they came to practice, they weren't just there. They worked hard and didn't have to be jump-started. They had goals they wanted to accomplish and they came every day trying to get themselves to the point they could achieve those. Carmel beat us, but I feel like we should've won and we were as good as anybody in the state that year."
Barnhizer never had a losing season over his first six years at Memorial, but his last two teams each went 8-13.
"I still feel pretty good about what we did, because the seniors from each of those two teams only won a couple games as freshmen," Barnhizer said, "so we made progress with each of them."
Barnhizer who was head coach of the Indiana All-Stars in 2003, arrived at Memorial in 2006.
He's been a high school head coach for 30 years, compiling a 384-279 record. Barnhizer started his coaching career by going 12-9 in one season at Locust Fork, Ala., before returning to his native state. His Indiana marks, in order, include 22-41 in three years at Westfield, 7-14 in one at Cloverdale, 112-62 in eight at Eastern of Bloomfield and 128-78 in nine at Perry Meridian.
As a player, Barnhizer finished among the leading scorers in Indiana history with 1,830 points for tiny Lapel before graduating in 1974. Collegiately, he was recruited by Purdue and transferred after one year to Auburn.
Barnhizer and wife Heidi have two sons who each play organized basketball. Braxton is entering eighth grade and Brooks is heading into seventh.