Tri-Valley head basketball coach Jon Nelson talks to his team during the Vikings' 70-58 loss to Eureka on Dec. 12, 2017 at Downs.

DOWNS — Among basketball's demands are time, energy and an ability to sustain effort. They apply to coaches as well as those in uniform.

For 22 years in all and 14 as head coach at Tri-Valley High School, Jon Nelson has kept up the pace.

Now, he says, "It's time for a little break."

Nelson resigned as head coach this week with a 228-169 record and three McLean County Tournament championships. He will remain at Tri-Valley as an English teacher and serve as boys head golf coach.

Nelson seeks to have more time for his family, which includes his wife, Jen, and their daughters, Sydney, a Tri-Valley junior, and Laney, a seventh-grader.

"I think about the sacrifices my family has made," Nelson said. "It (22 years) is just a long time. It wears on you. The stress of wins and losses and the ups and downs ... with the sacrifices your family makes to help get you through that, it's tough on them, too.

"I've told people it will be the first time in 22 years I've had June off and Christmas off. It's crazy to think about."

Nelson was an assistant coach for one year at Tri-Valley before succeeding Tom Hall as head coach in 2005. He guided the Vikings to the McLean County Tournament title in 2006 and added championships in 2008 and 2013.

Prior to coming to Tri-Valley, Nelson was an assistant for three years at Pleasant Plains and head coach for three seasons at Blue Ridge. His stint at Pleasant Plains included the 2000 Class A state championship.

"The part I'll miss the most is the relationships with the players as well as the coaching fraternity and the friendships you build through that," Nelson said.

Tri-Valley athletic director Josh Roop said Nelson has "poured heart and soul into the basketball program, not only working for wins on the court, but he's spent a lot of time building better men off the court. That was first and foremost in his mind.

"It's going to be a hard road to find somebody to replace Jon for what he's done for our school and our program."

Nelson said the true measure of a coach is what happens with players after they leave the program.

"To me, as coaches we don't know if we're successful until 15 to 20 years down the road," he said. "You hope they're good husbands and good fathers and are succeeding in life. 

"I've had a lot of former players reach out to me this week and thank me. It's more of the life stuff and lessons that have stuck with them. That means more than anything to me."

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Contact Randy Kindred at (309) 820-3402. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_kindred


Sports Editor

Sports editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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