It was a decision Anthony Russell had thought about for the past couple of years. Even after this latest girls basketball season, Russell wanted to give it even more thought.
But in the end, Russell was at peace resigning as East Haven girls basketball coach on April 27 after 13 seasons.
“I have a 2 year old and a 5 year old. Every hour I’m at basketball, is an hour away from them. I’m no longer willing to give that up,” Russell said. “I’ve always said if I couldn’t do it exactly the way it should be done, with the amount of effort and enthusiasm a coach should put into it, I would step away from it and give someone else the baton.”
Russell finished his tenure with a 181-119 record. That includes the 2018 Class M state championship, where the Yellowjackets defeated fellow SCC school Career 49-47 to finish with a 24-3 record.
Also among Russell’s successes was reaching three consecutive SCC tournament finals (2018-20), winning five straight division crowns (2016-20) and qualifying for postseason play the last 10 seasons.
Russell was also quick to point out his 10-50 start, including a 1-19 mark in season No. 3.
“It’s been a long journey. It’s been a comprehensive effort of coaches, players, parents and administrators. I’m proud of the time I was there.”
Russell, 44, has also been the school’s cross country coach for the past 18 seasons. Including his time coaching outdoor track and field and time spent as an assistant for boys basketball, Russell said he has coached in 53 different seasons.
He is unsure if he will be back this fall for season No. 19 of cross country.
Russell had open heart surgery in 2006 and had an implantable defibrillator put in his chest in 2018. He managed to make it through the fall and winter seasons without issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also a biology teacher at the school, Russell has commuted daily from Darien. That also factored into his decision to resign.
Both basketball positions are vacant at East Haven. Ricky Narracci resigned after leading the Yellowjackets to the SCC Division II tournament final. Russell coached under Narracci before taking the girls job.