After 10 seasons as Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School's head baseball coach in which he brought the program to new heights, Kevin James said he has stepped down to spend more time with his family.
James, who has three young daughters, was named the Class A Central Coach of the Year by his peers this season after helping the Bulldogs recover from a 2-7 start to earn a share of the A Central public title. In 2008, he led the Bulldogs to their first and only Shore Conference Tournament final appearance in school history, where they lost to perennial power Toms River South. In his 10 seasons, RFH won or shared five division titles and also won the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group II title in 2004.
He added that one of his proudest accomplishments is sending 34 players to play in college during his 10 seasons.
"We had a great run,'' James said. "The program has made great strides, and I'm leaving it in a position where they can continue to win. The program is in a great place, and that is why it's not as hard to walk away from it right now.''
"It's a shame coach James had to step down,'' said recently-graduated senior first baseman Dan Miller. "He is by far the best coach in the Shore Conference. It was an honor to play for him.''
James, whose father died at 79 years old during this past season, will be coaching his daughters, who are 11, 9, and 5 years old, in various sports and spending time with his family.
"Whenever spring came, I was never around, and in the summers I was never around because I was coaching both of our summer (baseball) teams,'' James said. "It will be fun to be able to be around them more.''
A former star at Don Bosco Prep who played at Rutgers, James said he plans on returning to coaching baseball in the high school ranks in some capacity in the future. During his time at RFH, he had also served as a head coach for the Jersey Shore Carpenter Cup team.
"There's no doubt I'm going to coach again,'' he said. "Baseball is something I love.''
One possible candidate as James' replacement is veteran assistant Gary Costello, who has been with the program for six years. A majority of the Bulldogs' lineup this season consisted of a core of juniors, so they should be in the hunt for a division title next spring.