By Jeremy Balan
After three years in arguably the most high-pressure coaching position in the City, Mike Carey resigned as head girls basketball coach at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Friday.
A Sacred Heart alumnus who coached the junior varsity program for 12 years prior to taking over the varsity spot, Carey went 45-42 in his varsity tenure, including back-to-back Central Coast Section Division III titles in 2011 and 2012.
“It is a weird feeling,” Carey said of his resignation. “I looked at my record the last three years and it’s right around the .500 mark. The program is not used to that. It has strived to be better that. Maybe it’s time for the program to go in a new direction.”
Ultimately, CCS titles were not enough to appease the tremendously high expectations of the program, which won four state titles under legendary head coach Brian Harrigan, Carey’s predecessor, who is now the head coach at league rival St. Francis.
“I tried not to think about it, but it was just there,” Carey said of the pressure on him and his team to live up to Harrigan’s teams, which were loaded with Division I talent. “It was the elephant in the room. Everyone was showing up thinking it should be like it was in the past. The kids were still working hard and we were still playing a tough schedule, but the stars were all aligned back then.”
When asked if he felt the expectations of him and the program were fair, Carey responded directly.
“No,” he said. “It puts pressure on not only me, but on the kids. We had a good group of athletes. We may not have been the team that won state titles in the mid 2000s, but we still had the kids, like in the mid-90s, who are hard-nosed and worked hard. It isn’t fair, but people come in with that perception of what it should be and when it’s not, then it’s trashy.”
Carey’s critics hit message boards, commented on internet stories on the team and even spoke out during Sacred Heart games to voice their displeasure, and Carey admitted that those influences ultimately got to him.
“It’s a high-pressure job and a high-profile job,” said Sacred Heart athletic director Jo Ann Momono. “It’s a reality, that’s all it is. It’s part of the culture here at Sacred Heart Cathedral, that our girls basketball program is high-profile and has unique pressures.”
Momono said the department has put out a job posting for the now-vacant position and will take applications until June 15, when the interview process will begin.
“We’re looking for the best and the brightest,” Momono said. “We’ll have someone in no later than the beginning of school year, but hopefully sooner.”
Carey expressed an interest in returning to coaching, but stressed the importance of finding a situation that fits, be it at the varsity or junior varsity level.
“I’m looking at other things,” Carey said. “I’m still interested in coaching. Is it at the varsity level? I don’t know. I love working with the kids and teaching the game, and I don’t want to give that up.”