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By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com 

The Dexter Dreadnaught boys basketball team will have a new head coach next year.

Around 2 p.m. on Apr. 8, Dexter Superintendent Chris Timmis called now former basketball coach Tim Cain. When Cain returned his call after getting out of work, he was told the news.

“He told me they’re basically looking to make a change,” said Cain, who came to Dexter for his second stint before the 2015-16 season, hired to replace former head coach Tim Fortescue. “I was shocked, wasn’t really seeing that. I thought we had three fairly successful seasons, faced a lot of adversity last year.” 

At 3:54 p.m. on Apr. 8 the twitter handle for the Dexter boys basketball team, ran by Cain, sent out a tweet of the change. 

At the moment, it is unclear what the future is for the rest of the staff. Cain told The Sun Times his assistants will not be returning, including Jon-Lamar Hamilton, the junior varsity (JV) coach and varsity assistant who has been with Cain for 8 years.

“We were blindsided,” said Hamilton, who was contacted by Cain shortly after Cain’s phone call with Timmis. “We were shocked. This morning as were texting back and forth, getting started with spring workouts, we were excited for next season. The players were excited for next season. We knew this year was gonna be tough, we lost five seniors and starters. But guys battled and fought and after the season guys wanted to get in the gym. We have had more guys than we’ve ever had coming to the morning shoot arounds this spring. Pretty much all our guys on AAU teams, guys were committed to getting better. As coaches it was good to see, we were looking forward to next year.” 

Freshman head coach and varsity assistant Koji Vroom was on track to coach junior varsity this year, with Hamilton becoming a varsity assistant, both taking the next step in their coaching journies.

“We got it out of the blue,” said Vroom on the news. “(Cain) got the voicemail, as far as I know, with no prior conversations. Nothing like that. When he said that, I didn’t believe it. It seemed crazy to me.”

“Shocked,” said Drew Bishop, a graduate from last year’s team, on his reaction when he heard the news. “Especially as the reason for their firing was to find better coaches. Cain was one of the only coaches ever at Dexter to beat the Ypsilanti Grizzles and contend for a conference title. He came into Dexter right away setting up a foundation that if players and parents of Dexter would buy into, Dexter would be a successful program for years to come. That foundation was toughness, grit, and having a team lead by its own players.”

Cain and Hamilton like to joke around with each other, the result of working together for that long. Hamilton told The Sun Times when Cain initially contacted him to tell him to call him back, that they’d been asked to resign, that it was a joke.

“I thought he just wanted me to call back quick,” said Hamilton. “I was shocked. I was confused on the reasoning that we were told by Timmis, it didn’t make sense. It was a sad moment. Yes, we understood we had a bad year. Last year? One game out of winning a league title. We beat Ypsilanti, the first team to do so in like five years, in the conference. We swept our rival Chelsea, 6-0 in the program. We were one year removed from that. We increased our wins the first three years we were here, and we had one bad year. We were motivated to get back on track, going 6-15. It was sad.” 

As the day went on, the coaches were in touch with players, current and former, as well as opposing coaches and parents.

https://twitter.com/ShaninSchmidt/status/1115357923851538433

“The first thing I wanted to do, I wanted to meet with them,” said Cain about informing his players when he was told the news. “But it’s gonna get out, a small town like Dexter. I wanted to text the players and thank them for the hard work and dedication. I really appreciate everything they’ve done; they’ve done everything we asked. Those relationships will be hard (to lose). Then the phone just starts ringing, I haven’t stopped talking to people in a while. I wish we could finish what we started, been there for seven years. Apparently, we gotta end that chapter and move and on.”

“All the players texts and calls, parents texts and calls, it meant a lot,” added Hamilton. “We knew they understood what we were doing for their sons. The players appreciated it. Kids breaking down over the phone, ‘tell me it’s not true,’ it was one of those things where you have to talk to the players like ‘it happens, have to move forward.’ We try to teach beyond just basketball, right? Developing young men, keeping our phones open, letting them know ‘we got you.’” 

“I was in the weight room,” said Dreadnaught sophomore Colin Parachek, a forward on the team this year, on where he was when he heard the news. “I was completely shocked. He cares about as basketball players a lot, but I learned he really cares about us as people and as men.”

“A bunch of players met and talked with (coach) Koji after school today trying to figure out the whole situation,” said Parachek on Apr. 9. “We were definitely shocked and trying to figure out everything that was happening.”

“For me, this year is my first year working in the school,” said Vroom, who got a teacher assistant job at Dexter with Cain’s help. “It’s like, you work where all the players are, where anyone that you would think would have an idea that something like this might happen. I had heard nothing from the players. I had heard nothing. At this point, I haven’t been contacted by anyone in administration.”

Vroom told The Sun Times he is in limbo, not knowing where he stands with the program.

“(Cain) was the coach that gave me my chance to get started with coaching,” said Vroom. “Absolutely a mentor figure for me. As far as coaching goes, almost like a father figure in a way. He’s basically taught me a huge majority of what I know about coaching and helped me develop in 2 years as a coach. For me, that’s a huge hit.”

On Apr. 9, support and confusion continued to circulate on social media.

Timmis sent a statement to The Sun Times via email on Apr. 9.

“With regard to the decision to change the varsity boys basketball coach, it was not easy decision. After several years, we were not seeing the evolution of our boys basketball program at the level we expect at DHS. We are grateful for the efforts of Coach Cain and want to wish him the best in his future. Meanwhile, we are committed to the future of our program for our kids. The position has already been posted and we plan to conduct interviews in the next few weeks. The interview process will be sent to parents of athletes in the program sometime in the next few days. We are confident we will have a strong pool of candidates and will hire a new leader for our boys basketball program by late April or early May.”

Cain came back to Dexter from Belleville, where he was the head coach of boys junior varsity for two years. In his first stint with the Dreadnaughts he was a JV head coach and varsity assistant.

Prior to that, he had stops at Saline, Ann Arbor Skyline, Willow Run, and Dexter.  

In his four years as head coach, Cain went 42-43 overall and 22-24 in the SEC White. His best year was 2016-17, when the Dreadnaughts went 14-7.

“His work ethic,” Vroom answered when asked what the program will lose in Cain. “I think what a lot of players learned to see is that we’ve got a coach that’s putting all this time in. We owe it to ourselves to mimic that. It was a lead by example sort of thing. He was such a competitor. He was such a hard worker in his job, that the players just often times fell in line and to lead by example.

“I think, one of the former players, Brady Rosen said it best to me,” added Vroom. “He was like, ‘He really helped that class,’ and him, as an individual just grow a lot by leading by example and really building a culture that I can only hope continues.”

“It’s just relationships with the kids,” said Cain on what he’ll miss the most about coaching at Dexter. “To develop them and not see them through is really difficult.” 

“We sit as a coaching staff every year and say where are we at? Are we the right coaches for the program? I don’t think we’ve ever been as excited as we were for the next year, never really lost as a coaching staff before, and it humbled us. A lot of support from coaches in the league, parents, the texts from the alumni are touching and lets you know you’re doing things the right way. Dexter’s looking for something else, hopefully they find it.”

On Apr. 10, Cain issued statements which Timmis and athletic director Mike Bavineau responded to.

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