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Schonauer calls it quits after 15 memorable seasons
After 15 years Willows High boys basketball coach Darrell Schonauer is ready to pass the torch.
"It's been a long haul but it's been a lot of fun. There have been ups and downs, I'll miss it, but it's time for somebody else," Schonauer said.
Willows claimed four league titles under the guidance of Schonauer and made it to the Northern Section Division IV semifinals three times despite being one of the smaller schools in the division.
He now plans on settling into a semi-retirement — he still has the family farm which he helps take care of — and cherishes the memories and friendships which formed during his time in the gym.
Schonauer, 66, graduated from Orland High in 1965 and later served in Vietnam before returning home to work on the family farm his grandfather started.
"I came home (from Vietnam) and tried to go back to school but I always wanted to be a farmer, so I started farming with my dad and my uncle and I've been doing that ever since," he said.
He played basketball at Orland, was always competitive and enjoyed sports, but his coaching career didn't begin until his son started playing basketball at Willows and the school needed a freshman coach.
Soon he graduated up to varsity and built a competitive team which prided itself on playing hard.
The Honkers were young and often struggled this season but still managed to pull off wins against Sacramento Valley League co-champions Live Oak and Pierce.
"To me sports are about as close to the real-life thing of what you put into it is what you'll get out. You work with people, learn how to take command or take directions and all that kind of stuff. Hopefully I got through to some of the kids," Schonauer said.
Two of the proudest moments in Schonauer's career came in the last few years, he said.
In the 2009 playoffs, the Honkers beat Anderson 47-45 in overtime on a buzzer-beater by Cody Pastorino, who went on to play two years of basketball and four years of football at Willamette University in Oregon.
"We called a timeout and I asked what do we want to run and (Pastorino) says, 'just give me the ball.' Brian Erickson, the Hamilton coach, was helping me at that time and I think he remembers that too," Schonauer said.
Last season the Honkers pulled off an even more impressive feat. Down 34-15 at halftime to eventual Northern Section Division IV champion Central Valley in the Corning Shootout tournament, Willows outscored the Falcons 44-4 in the second half and won 57-38.
"It was just unbelievable. The officials were coming over and asking what I said at halftime and actually I hadn't said anything. They just came out and decided they wanted to play together," he said.
Ryan Welsh, who scored 11 points and dished out eight assists in that game, is a freshman on the Hamline University basketball team in Minnesota.
There were other games won and lost on buzzer beaters, but those two games stand out in Schonauer's mind and are memories he will always cherish.
Though he is done coaching, Schonauer will be around. He is a regular on the golf course and still plans on showing up to games now and then.
Glenn County is his home and he is close enough to his children - one daughter lives in Chico and the other in Reno - to visit his granddaughters frequently.
"There's always something to do, I don't like sitting around the house. I always liked sports, maybe my granddaughters will get into it and play something and get me going," he said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.