SALEM - He did it his way.
After 34 years, 636 wins and 26-straight league titles, legendary Salem head volleyball coach Don Conser officially resigned Monday ending one of the most remarkable coaching stints in Ohio high school volleyball history.
There was speculation as to whether or not Conser would retire following the 2010 season, but circumstances with his then-replacement fell through and he agreed to come back and coach for the 2011 season.
Following the Lady Quakers final game this past season, a defeat in the Division II Boardman District final, when asked about talk of his retirement Conser flashed a grin and said "Those are just rumors," adding a wink.
Last Thursday he handed in his letter of resignation to the school board.
"It is with mixed feelings I write this letter," Conser said in his letter to Salem Superintendent Tom Bratten. "I love coaching the girl's volleyball program and I feel we have very good coaches affiliated with the program. But like so many things one does, there are more responsibilities then there used to be. Plus, there comes a time when one must step back and allow others to carry on. With all of this in mind I am submitting my resignation as head coach."
Conser thanked the board for standing by him and reminded them that last year he told them they should start looking for a new coach.
"There does come a time when you get the feeling you're done," he said at the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Salem Athletic Director Greg Steffey presented Conser with a ring sent by the Ohio High School Coaches Association, saying it's only the second of its kind representing 600 victories in a career. Conser stands as the coach in Ohio with the most wins in the sport of volleyball.
"It only took 34 years," Conser said when he accepted the ring.
Steffey had high praise for the stoic coach.
"Coach Conser has done a remarkable job. I'm pleased he was able to come back this year," Steffey said. "He's done a great job."
Steffey said they'll start searching for another coach next month.
"I wish him the best. He put in a lot of time for our girls," he said.
Superintendent Tom Bratten and members of the school board thanked Conser for his 34 years of service, with Bratten commenting, "I doubt anybody is going to be able to fill those shoes as well as you coach."
Bratten told board members when he spoke to the coach recently, Conser told him if they can't find a suitable replacement, he'll help the girls again.
When asked what he'll miss most about coaching the Lady Quakers, Conser's answer was an easy one.
"The kids," he said. "We have had a lot of excellent athletes in my 34 years of coaching. Without pointing to anyone in particular, I have had many girls make the All-State team as First Team, Second Team and Honorable Mention. They have set quite a precedent for the other girls to follow."
Reflecting on his fondest memories Conser recalled the team's two trips to the state final four in 1999 and 2007.
"Those I will never forget," he said.
Salem News staff writer Mary Ann Greier contributed to this article.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org