NORWALK — It is time for Team Keyes to come first.
After seven years spent as the boys varsity basketball coach at Norwalk High School, Tom Keyes stepped down Thursday, citing “personal and professional” reasons for stepping away from the game he has loved his whole life.
“After giving it much consideration, I have decided to resign my position,” Keyes wrote in a letter he posted on Twitter. “It has been a privilege and an honor to lead a storied program with such great tradition. Unfortunately, due to other personal and professional goals, I will no longer have time to continue to commit to the program in the manner I feel is required from the head coach.”
His four biggest reasons for stepping away, Keyes said, reside right under his roof.
He and his wife added their third child to the family a year ago to go with two boys, ages 7 and 5.
“It had kind of been coming as we came into the season,” Keyes admitted. “We had our third child about a year ago and I knew right then and there that I was looking toward the end of my coaching career. I wasn’t really sure going into the season, though.”
After giving it his all during a season in which Norwalk went 13-10 and made the FCIAC semifinals and state tournament after a two-year absence, Keyes realized he had nothing left to give.
“When the season was up, I sat down, spoke with my family and did some soul-searching,” Keyes said. “There are other things I want to do in my life.”
Norwalk athletic director Doug Marchetti said he wasn’t surprised by the news after having previous postseason talks with Keyes.
“We had some discussions after the end of the season,” Marchetti said. “We kind of decided the season is over, sleep on it, have a conversation with your family. He came to me earlier this week and said it was just time to move on and there are things he wants to do.”
Marchetti said in his four years as athletic director at Norwalk, Keyes was always one of the easiest coaches to deal with.
“Tom has been the ultimate professional to work with,” Marchetti said. “In terms of year-round planning, and in terms of being in the building and being a role model for the kids, he’s done everything you could ask for when it comes to what’s best for his program.
“That’s what we’re going to miss,” Marchetti added. “The work and effort he put into the program.”
Keyes is proud of how he helped turn the Norwalk program back around after a down period.
In the six years before Keyes’ arrival at Norwalk, the Bears were 34-86 with just two state tournament appearances.
Keyes went 72-80 during his Norwalk High career and finished his overall varsity coaching career with a 101-97 record.
The Bears made three FCIAC tournaments, including a spot in 2015 when they lost to Westhill in the championship game.
“Obviously, you always would have liked to have won the whole thing,” he said. “But I feel good about what we did here. I was happy to raise the bar for what our expectations were.”
Norwalk also made five state tournament appearances in his seven seasons.
Keyes admitted he will miss coaching.
“I’m going to miss a lot of things about it,” he said. “Certainly, the kids, being a part of a team, the competition. But I have no regrets. I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience.”
Making Norwalk basketball relevant again was an important way to go out.
“The team this season, I was really proud of them,” Keyes said. “The way they fought all season. We won 13 games and a lot of them were under three points.”
Marchetti said he will look to get the position filled as quickly as he can so the program has somebody in charge heading into the summer.
“We’re going to find who the best fit is for Norwalk High,” Marchetti said.
As for Keyes, he’ll enjoy his family and figure out the future.
“I don’t know what’s next, but I’m looking forward to taking on a new challenge,” he said.