LAPEL — Lapel High School basketball coach Jimmie Howell — who has racked up a win-loss record of 263-133 in 17 years leading the Bulldogs — retired from coaching effective Monday.
“I’ve been thinking about it the past couple of years,” Howell, 66, said Tuesday morning, noting that others had said he’d know when the moment was right.
That moment came last week.
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“I had a talk with some people Friday morning,” he said. “I knew after I talked with them that it was time.
“I’m just mentally and emotionally worn down right now.”
Howell is a 1972 LHS graduate and was a three-year starter at Charleston Southern University, where he graduated as the program’s leader in career assists (372).
After finishing his playing career, he launched into a successful high school coaching career spanning five decades
Howell was the varsity boys head coach at Mt. Vernon (Fortville) from 1981 to 1995, during which he led the Marauders to seven sectional titles and two regional championships, and from 1991 to 1995 concurrently served as Mt. Vernon’s varsity girls head coach, winning an additional 43 games.
He led Muncie Southside High School to a sectional championship, then coached at Brownsburg High School from 1998 to 2004 before being hired at LHS.
He led the team to the 2005 Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 1A championship and the 2016 Class 2A state championship.
Howell, who was inducted into Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, said coaching has become a tougher job through the years.
“There are just a lot more pressures coming from a lot of different areas,” he said.
When asked the source of those pressures, he responded, “It’s not one thing but rather just a little bit of everything.”
Howell, who has been the athletic director at Lapel Middle School the past three years, said he’s thinking about retiring from that position at the end of this year.
But it’s not certain, he said.
“I’ve not turned in a letter of retirement for my AD job, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Looking back at his coaching career, he said it’s been a good run.
“I’ve been very fortunate the last 40 years,” he said. “All the schools I’ve been at, basketball’s important.”
He said retiring mid-season is definitely unusual, but that it shouldn’t leave the team in the lurch.
The team is in good hands with assistant coach Justin Coomer stepping up, and four other assistant coaches besides.
“So there’s plenty of manpower — he’ll do a good job,” Howell said.
Howell said he was not planning to be at Lapel’s game Tuesday against Guerin Catholic. The Bulldogs lost, 82-40.