Colleen Backer’s love for basketball and coaching remain intact, but she’s looking for an outlet for those passions that is more compatible with the rest of her life.
Backer announced Thursday that she is stepping down after four years of coaching St. Charles North’s girls basketball team. She informed the North Stars’ players about her decision Monday.
Backer, who arrived at North after coaching at a prep school in Charleston, S.C., is the daughter of former longtime Wheaton Warrenville South boys basketball coach Barry Brennan. She consulted extensively with her father before making the decision.
In an email explaining her rationale, Backer – who was Colleen Brennan when she first came to North – acknowledged mixed emotions about the move, but said there was no behind-the-scenes “drama” involved.
“As you know, I moved here from the east coast, and maintaining my relationships and life there in some way, getting married and having a family, being an effective special education teacher and having some time to myself are just not possible while being a head coach of a program for me right now,” Backer wrote.
Backer routinely emphasized team-building and relationships above wins and losses but she also enjoyed competitive success early in her tenure.
Her first North team finished 21-10 and memorably pushed an unbeaten Geneva powerhouse to the brink before the Vikings exhaled for a 47-45 win in a regional championship game played at North.
The North Stars have struggled the past couple seasons, including a 9-20 finish in 2012-13, but Backer anticipates those lumps will do the returnees some good in the near future.
“The girls in the varsity program this year are just an amazing group, and many of them are young,” Backer wrote. “If I am in between this decision, this is the perfect timing to do it as we have had two building years and the earlier the girls are able to develop a relationship with a new coach the better as I truly believe they will make significant progress next year and the year after.”
Backer plans to continue guiding the program until her replacement is found, including conducting upcoming clinics for the St. Charles Storm youth feeder program.
She speculated that coaching her daughter’s sixth-grade team and helping some of her friends on the high school coaching circuit with scouting could be among the ways she stays connected to the sport.