Sports

Islander boys basketball coach Ed Pepple announces retirement after 49 years

Mercer Island High School boys basketball coach and Island icon Ed Pepple officially announced his retirement after 42 years of coaching at Mercer Island High School effective Friday at 1 p.m.

"I actually made the decision after last year," said Pepple, who coached for 49 years overall, winning 952 games, four state titles and becoming the winningest basketball coach in state history. "It's been long enough. It's time to let someone else run the show. And I am not Brett Favre."

The last remark refers to NFL quarterback Brett Farve who has announced his retirement three times.

Pepple said that the process has been cerebral and a year in the making.

"It has not been emotional at all," said Pepple. "I just wanted to do it and do it the right way."

The decision was kept so secret that the majority of his family didn't find out until recently.

"Not even my family knew this year," said Pepple. "I didn't want to detract from the 2009 team. I have some other stuff I want to do and it was just time."

Pepple said that the decision came after the last season when 11 seniors graduated. He added that he didn't want to leave the next coach with a entirely new group of players with no experience or respect from other teams, among other reasons.

"I wanted to try and make those kids' senior year as good as I could," said Pepple of the 2008 season.

Pepple's dedication to his players has led to many of them to return to Mercer Island and coach on his staff. Juanita High School head coach Jeff Patrick is a former Mercer Island High School basketball player and has coached against Pepple for years.

"Obviously he is one of the most successful coaches in history," said Patrick, who graduated from MIHS in 1984. "He has had a big impact on so many of his players' lives. It is evident by how many want to come back and be a part of the program and basketball in general."

Patrick Frost, Ron Cohn and Gavin Cree are both MIHS grads and coaches on Mercer Island's staff this season. Pepple said that Cree is the only one he knows of that will apply for the head coaching position of his current assistant coaches.

"I think that he will definitely apply," said Pepple, who is 76 and more than 300 wins ahead of the next closest boys basketball head coach in Washington state history. "He has made the decision to go back to school to teach and he is ready for it. I think he'll do a great job where ever he goes."

Some of the most successful players that Pepple has coached is former NBA center Steve Hawes and current NBA Developmental League head coach for the Austin Toros, Quin Snyder.

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