It will be a new era in the Mount Rainier girls basketball program next season.
And not just because the Rams will be without the magnificent McPhee twins, who led them to their first-ever championship game this year.
Bob Bolam has resigned after 12 seasons as head coach and 27 years in the program overall.
“I just felt it was time,” he said. “There’s going to be change with a new group of kids, and a change for me personally. I’ve been at Mount Rainier for 30 years, 27 of them coaching basketball, so it’s been a long time.
“It just gets harder every year. My life gets busy at work and at home. It’s time for me to take a break. I don’t know if I’m done coaching totally, but for right now.”
Bolam and his wife, Katie, have three teenage children. He started as a student teacher at Mount Rainier in 1984 and now works at Nestle as a shift supervisor. He also has coached football at Mount Rainier and was on the 1990 staff that won the 3A state title. He coached slowpitch softball for two seasons in the early 1990s as well.
“Bob Bolam has been a steady and positive influence on Mount Rainier athletes for 30 years,” athletic director Darren Rawie said. “Bob has been a respected coach and leader on our staff and we will miss him tremendously. His retirement is a huge loss to our athletic community.”
He leaves with a record of 221-89 – just 11 shy of the school’s all-time victory total established by Karl Cordes, who won 232 games during his 16 season as head boys basketball coach.
Nearly half of those wins (101) came over the past four seasons with Brittany and Jordan McPhee on the court. Brittany is a three-time Gatorade Player of the Year who has signed with Stanford.
Bolam said he “had an inkling” the 2013-14 season might be his last even before it started.
“You never know until it’s all done and you let it rest, and then you decide,” he said.
He nearly went out a state champion, but the Rams let a second-half lead slip away and lost to Gonzaga Prep of Spokane in the final, settling for second. They placed third in 2012 and ’13 and also qualified for state when the McPhees were freshmen.
“It was a great four seasons with those guys,” Bolam said. “They made it easy to come back every year and work. You knew you were going to be successful and challenge for a championship, and that’s what we tried to do, and we were close.”
But the program enjoyed success before the McPhees arrived, too, reaching the 3A state tournament under Bolam in ? (there were three state appearances in the 1970s as well).
Two juniors were key starters on this year’s team – 6-foot Emily Fiso and 5-7 Aqeelah Williams – so there seemed to be some promise for next season and still could be, although Bolam said he believes Williams has transferred back to Cleveland, where she played sparingly as a freshman. Rawie said he could not comment on the status of any students.