After compiling a school-record 14 wins this season, Freedom-South Riding is in the market for a new boys’ basketball coach.
The school announced Monday that Coach Derek Gaunt will step down in order to devote his undivided attention to his primary occupation as a lieutenant in the city of Alexandria Police Department.
Under Gaunt’s direction, the Eagles finished third in the AAA Cedar Run district with a 6-4 league record (14-11 overall).
“More importantly than the basketball success, Coach Gaunt led the program with the utmost integrity and class. Freedom High School thanks him for his tremendous service and wishes him the best in his professional pursuits,” Athletic Director Matt Oblas said in a Monday news release.
Gaunt is one of two listed Sector Three Assistant Commanders, which patrols six service areas in the western sector Alexandria. In a phone interview on Tuesday, Gaunt said he is eligible for retirement at the police department in 10 months.
“I’m getting to that point in my professional career where it’s time for me to step away from this as well,” he said.
To ensure his retirement proceeds as scheduled, Gaunt said he needs to focus his attention on police work.
“While my love for the game has not waned at all, it would just be unfair for me to continue to try to maintain the program at its current level,” he said.
Gaunt said his aim was always to provide life lessons for players that would probably see their basketball careers end at the high school level.
He started coaching freshman basketball at Freedom in 2007. College students who used to play for Gaunt still stop by to visit with the coach and show him they’re applying his lessons.
After the team lost a consolation game in the second round of the AAA Cedar Run district tournament, Gaunt broke the news to his players.
He said they were “silent” and “shocked,” with the news impacting the younger members of the team the most.
If retirement goes as planned, Gaunt said he has opportunities to work in law enforcement in a training capacity. He will celebrate this year’s accomplishments with the players at a banquet next month.