After great run, Russom steps down at Appleton North

Joe Russom resigns
Joe Russom has resigned Wednesday as head coach of Appleton North. (WLUK).

MENASHA (WLUK) -- Before Joe Russom took over as head coach of the Appleton North girls basketball team not much attention was paid to the Lightning.

North was an OK program, hovering around .500, but that was soon to change.

After going 7-14 in Russom's first year, North strung together nine straight winning seasons, culminating with back-to-back Division 1 state titles in 2017 and 2018.

But Wednesday, Russom's run ended when he resigned. For Russom, who teaches at Menasha High School, he knew before the state tournament this would be his last season, but needed some time before he was ready to make it official.

"I needed a couple weeks of clarity to figure it out," Russom said. "Looking at my professional life here at Menasha and some health and family situations, it just made the most sense that I just kind of simplify, really take the opportunities that are here at Menasha."

Russom hasn't closed the door on coaching again, but for now it is. He said he will help at Menasha with the volleyball program and in weight training.

"I'm going to miss the competitiveness we had with Kimberly and how (Kimberly coach) Troy (Cullen) prepared his team and pushed us to excel," said Russom, whose teams were a combined 52-4 the last two seasons, including 28-0 in 2016-17. "Those are the things I'm going to miss. And I'm going to miss the kids. I'm going to miss those bonds we had as coaches and players."

Lightning senior Kari Brekke started four seasons under Russom and had nothing but praise for her former coach.

"He taught me a lot of things about the game of basketball but also just about leadership and how to be a good teammate, so having him these last four years I've grown as a player and as a person and I can attribute a lot of my successes to him," Brekke said.

In 10 seasons at North, Russom won 180 games, reach the state tournament the last three seasons and won the last two Division 1 state title titles. The new coach will have some big shoes to fill.

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay