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Alpena basketball coach John Pintar to step down after 30 years with team

News Photo by Owen Kinzey Alpena High School boys basketball coach John Pintar, holding the framed poster, accepts accolades from his supporters during a recent game at the school.

ALPENA – The most decorated coach in Alpena High School history has finally decided to retire after 30 years of coaching.

Alpena basketball coach John Pintar started managing the Wildcats’ freshman team for the first two years of his career, transitioning to the junior varsity coach for four more years, and finally wrapping up with 24 straight years of varsity coaching.

“Looking back on it, I can’t believe how long I’ve actually been (coaching),” Pintar said. “I realized it was my time to retire when I was coaching the kids of my former players. I’m coaching Connor Cameron and Caleb McEwen right now, but I also coached their fathers, Matt Cameron and Jim McEwen, in the past.”

Beginning in 1995 and calling it quits in 2024, Pintar has experienced several highs and lows as a coach.

One of the most impressive statistics outlined in Pintar’s resume is his 247 career win total.

News Photo by Owen Kinzey Alpena High School boys basketball coach John Pintar speaks with his players during a recent game at the school.

After a demanding schedule over the past two seasons, Pintar was never quite able to reach the 250-win milestone, but he joined an exclusive class of coaches nonetheless.

Also included in Pintar’s winnings are three Big North Conference titles as well as two district titles.

A significant school record was also set during his term, accumulating 21 straight wins in the 2013-14 season.

Aside from that single-season accomplishment, Pintar won 27 straight games from 2013 into 2015 and 17 straight BNC games in that timeframe.

In addition to Pintar’s records and achievements, he managed four of the top six scorers in the program’s history.

Chris DeRocher, Tyler Pintar, Tucker Bright, and Cooper Bright all witnessed Pintar’s reign and established themselves as great players under him.

DeRocher, Tyler Pintar, and, most recently, Tucker Bright reached 1,000 career points during Coach Pintar’s 30-year career.

“It’s incredible to be able to coach plenty of great talents … and I’m so thankful for all the dedication these guys put in,” the coach said. “It’s not easy for anyone to score 1,000 points, let alone being able to coach three over a career.”

After coaching for that many years, the end begins to get emotional. Dedicating the last 30 years of his life to the Alpena community’s basketball and school program, Pintar has decided to let go of the game and the classroom.

Retiring from both aspects leaves two substantial shoes to fill for upcoming candidates, especially considering the amount of time he gave to Alpena.

“I figured I’d get emotional after the game, but, as the game got closer and I saw the clock ticking down, it really started to hit me that this would be the last time I’d be on this court coaching,” Pintar said. “Obviously, seeing all the former players and coaches after the game got me emotional, too, because, without those guys, I wouldn’t be in the same position I am right now.”

Alongside Pintar for the last 28 years has been his leading coaching partner and one of his best friends, Bill Bright.

Bright will also retire from coaching as his son graduates, despite continuing as an educator at Alpena High.

“Me and (Bright) have been together for the past 28 years, and, although I received a lot of the credit tonight, he deserves equal praise,” Pintar said. “He’s been like my teammate all these years, and nobody else in the BNC has been (coaching) nearly as long as we have.”

Pintar described his favorite coaching moments and thanked everyone who played for him, supported him, and allowed him to coach for three decades.

“My favorite moment ever would have to be witnessing the look in your player’s eyes when your team has success, and everyone believes in each other,” Pintar said. “I’m so lucky to coach well over 300 players, and all the love I have received from my wife, my players, my coaches, and the community is greatly appreciated — and, trust me, it went a long way.”

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