After a combined 26 years of coaching high school girls’ basketball, accumulating 467 victories, Rob Williams and Mike Reem are leaving the court. The coaching duo have impressive records. Williams recorded 236 wins and 120 losses. Rob stepped down for family reasons. “Last year, I saw 10 out of my sons’ 52 basketball games,” said Williams. “With Jaeden entering high school, Breckyn an eighth grader, and Adah playing elementary ball, I want to be there to support them. It’s time to be Dad.”
Williams, a third grade teacher at Rippleside Elementary was the head girls’ basketball coach for 13 years, but also coached numerous other sports for 20 years. “I love sports and the atmosphere surrounding athletics. Coaching helped me give back to my community and fostered many great moments in my life,” added Williams. “Many of the people I admired most were my coaches.”
Williams played football, basketball and ran track at Crosby-Ironton and played basketball and rugby while attending Gustavus Adolphus.
Some memorable moments while coaching include a C-squad boys’ basketball game against McGregor, said Williams. “We won only two games that season. One was a three-point win over McGregor after losing to them by 65 points earlier in the season.”
Recent memorable moments were sweeping Pequot Lakes and knocking off Esko this year. Both were firsts for the Aitkin girls’ basketball program. Perhaps one of the greatest coaching moments was guiding the Aitkin girls to their first section tournament finals in 2009.
One of Williams’ most disappointing moments in sports occurred as a high school senior in football. “We had the football with a first and goal, driving to score and defeat Chisholm in the Section finals. We had the size and talent to win but a fumble ended our chance to advance to the state tournament.
“Coaching isn’t just about winning and losing,” concluded Williams. “There needs to be a balance between having a passion for coaching but not letting it consume your life. My priorities have always been faith, family and friends. I have been fortunate to have had the support of my wife Brita. Right now we want to enjoy watching our kids compete in their athletics, but I do intend to coach again.”
Mike Reem worked closely with Rob Williams as assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach for 13 years, accumulating a 231-74 record as the B-squad coach. During his 35 years with a whistle, Reem has coached numerous sports.
Reem was a standout athlete for Aitkin High School in football, basketball and baseball and later at Minnesota State University Moorhead in football. “I love to compete,” said Reem, “and coaching allowed that opportunity after my playing career ended. I wanted to help kids learn about the effort it takes to be successful and how it can carry over in life.”
Reem decided some time ago that the 2018-19 season would be his last. “This year’s seniors were 25-0 as freshmen, and I wanted to finish my career with that group of girls,” said Reem.
Fond coaching memories include his first year coaching football at Cavalier, ND. Cavalier had never made it to state before; that team reached the state semifinals. Reem also has fond memories of the first football team he coached at Aitkin in 2005-06 that finished with an 18-4 record.
One of Mike’s greatest disappointments in coaching occurred at Cavalier; “I had a group of kids who didn’t believe in themselves; it was a long season.”
“One of the challenges that comes with coaching is getting kids to understand that God made all of us different; not everyone has the same talent, so as a coach you try to find a role for all players to find success,” he concluded.
Reem, who spent most of his career in sales, and his wife Sandi, plan to spend winters in the sun. They have plans to visit their daughter Jen, her husband Zack and their grandson Ezra who live in Italy. The Reems’ son Garret died at age 29. Garret had a daughter Malaya and son Avery. The Reems also have a foster son Shawn who has six children.