Have you taken stock of Lebanon High’s overall athletic program lately? If you have, you know that the Cedars don’t need less Ben Brewers, they need more of him.
That really has little to do with why Brewer and the Cedars are parting ways, sort to speak. While just as competitive as the next guy, Brewer does not judge success by wins and losses.
And that’s exactly why he will be so sorely missed at Lebanon.
Brewer recently resigned his post as Lebanon girls’ basketball coach, effective immediately. While he certainly left his mark on the program, it may be that Brewer has so much to give that he wants to spread it around a little more.
“I love working with student-athletes, and coaching them,” said Brewer. “Mentoring them. I’m still going to stay involved with coaching. I enjoy that part tremendously. But at the same time, I felt I coached less this season. There were certain things going on externally that took away the enjoyment. With any position, no matter how much you enjoy it, there’s going to be negatives.
“I definitely wouldn’t say I had any less passion than I did 13 years ago,” Brewer continued. “I still have the passion, but I have other passions I want to dive into. There’s other things around it that are starting to shine brightly.”
From the outside looking in, it may appear that Brewer is leaving at an opportune time or that the Cedars’ disappointing 5-17 campaign – 4-12 in Section Two of the Lancaster-Lebanon League – played a huge role in his decision. But that simply wasn’t the case.
“I understand that,” said Brewer. “But if that was the case, I would’ve resigned after my first season. Was it a great season? No. It was a difficult season. One of the best players in our league is only going to be a junior. Of course it’s going to look like that. But the next two or three or four seasons are going to be better than the last one. It’s not like the cupboard is bare.
“They have a great staff,” continued Brewer. “The junior high has turned around the last few years. The biddy program has always been successful. Of our 17 players, 15 are returning, including four starters. The program is only going to go up from here. Our program is going to do great things.”
During Brewer’s last five seasons as head coach, the Cedars have won two L-L Section Two championships and made a trip to the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs. For the four years prior to that, Brewer served as then head coach Carlos Sanchez’s assistant.
He also coached Cedar boys for four years, at the junior high level.
“I’ll add three years to that,” said Brewer, 35. “I played boys’ basketball at Lebanon. I played biddy basketball growing up. I worked with Carlos (Sanchez), which was a wonderful experience. I got to see a lot of stuff.
“My grandfather was a teacher at Lebanon for 35 years. My grandmother, my mother and my aunt all worked in the school district,” Brewer added. “I love the place. It’s (that he bleeds blue and red) an accurate statement. The one thing I will take away from the administration is the opportunity of allowing me to coach at Lebanon High School. To me, it was an amazing opportunity. There are a lot of things I’m going to miss.”
In some ways, Brewer isn’t going anywhere. Brewer will remain as the coordinator of the Lebanon school district’s virtual academy and as the Cedars’ golf coach.
“The last couple of weeks of the season, it went through my head a little bit, but not concerning anything that went on during the season,” said Brewer of his resignation. “I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the next year-long commitment – the summer camps, the open gyms. I just thought it was the right time. I’m excited to see what’s next.
“It was a difficult decision, absolutely,” added Brewer. “I got into education to get into coaching. I’m in the education field because I wanted to coach. I have a fantastic staff that’s very supportive.”
Brewer was disappointed to learn that cross-town neighbor and friendly rival Lebanon Catholic would not be invited back to Lebanon’s annual four-team Christmas Tournament. But that disappointment seemed to play very little role in his decision.
“That was a final decision that wasn’t directly made by me,” said Brewer. “What I was told was that we were having trouble filling our tournament because of the presence of a Class A program. You know how important power rankings are in this day and age. But I’m disappointed in that. I think we should be playing local teams as much as possible. It’s good for the community. It’s good for the kids. I know Patti (Lebanon Catholic head coach Hower) was disappointed with that.”
For now, Brewer is pursuing a master’s degree, and a little bit of marathon running. He believes his more-distant future will become more clear as it unfolds.
“Will I ever coach basketball again?,” said Brewer. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. I’m definitely not going to coach next year. I have other things I want to explore and try out. That’s what I’m excited about right now. I’m walking away with a smile on my face. I’m looking forward to following our program and the progress of our players.
“I don’t judge the health of our athletic programs by wins and losses,” concluded Brewer. “I look at as they’re (kids) student-athletes and we’re teaching them more than just how to win games. We don’t win a lot of matches, but I get an opportunity to introduce the game of golf to ten kids who never touched a club before. I think our programs are very healthy. We need to get more students to commit to play. We don’t have the participation that other schools have. We don’t have the numbers.”
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