After eight years of concentrating on the Missoula Big Sky boys' basketball team, Josh Laslovich is going to take some time to focus on himself and his family.
Laslovich resigned his position as boys' basketball coach at Big Sky, athletic director Brian Fortmann announced Wednesday.
Laslovich, 35, guided the Eagles for eight seasons, compiling a record of 64-93. The Missoula Sentinel and Montana-Western graduate took the Eagles to state four times (2004, 2007-09).
"Josh did a great job," Fortmann said. "He was very caring. He made great relationships with the kids in the classroom and on the basketball court. I know he went the extra mile for them. He spent endless hours outside of the job, working to improve the program and was always going to bat for the kids."
Laslovich is currently undergoing chemotherapy for a relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which he was first diagnosed with in August of 2006. He'll face a bone marrow transplant in Salt Lake City once he completes a couple of months of chemo.
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"It was one of those things that was in the back of my mind before the start of the year," said Laslovich, who will continue to teach english at the school as his treatments allow. "It's time for new blood and time to focus on some other things, as far as my own life.
"I'm lucky. All my diagnoses have been real good as far as the type of leukemia. It's a beatable thing, it's just a process."
Fortmann said Laslovich's tenure shouldn't be measured by wins and losses.
"People don't understand that high school sports are different from what they see on TV," Fortmann said. "What they see on TV is college and professional. I know in the high school ranks, we exist to give the kids the opportunity to participate. That's really, really important. We don't measure the success of the program by our wins and losses. I've said that to the parents; I've said that to the coaches. If you're doing the right things and working like crazy to put the right values in place, the wins will take care of themselves.
"We measure program success by other means. Are the kids better off at the end of the season than they were at the start of the season? I look at attrition levels. Do the kids want the season to end at the end of the season or do they want to keep going? Those are ways to measure how good your program's going."
Laslovich said there's a long list of things he'll miss about coaching.
"First and foremost the kids," Laslovich said. "It's one of those things that kind of rejuvenated you every year."
And what won't he miss?
"There's a good list there, too," Laslovich said with a laugh. "It's a job that if you do it right you put everything into it. You spend a lot of time outside of the contractual hours, if you want to call it that. It was never a chore, so it wasn't something that ever felt like a burden, but it will sure as heck free up a little time."
Laz, as he's known to friends, has seen some changes during his tenure, not all for the better.
"To be frank, from my experience over the last 10 years and from guys that have a lot more experience than me who I made good relationships with from around the state, the landscape has changed as far as what you're dealing with, the whole bear of high school basketball. The love of the game isn't the same as it used to be. There seem to be all these tertiary reasons for doing it. Some of them are good; some of them I think take away from the sport. That concerns me a little bit.
"At the same time, kids are kids and they go out there and play hard and have a good time. I still think it's a great deal."
Laslovich thanked his assistant coaches and the Big Sky administration for their support over the years.
"I wouldn't have gone eight years without it," he said.
"All in all, walking away from it I feel better eight years later than I did walking into it."
Sports editor Bob Meseroll can be reached at 523-5265 or at email@example.com.