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Tim Lavin set to retire: 'It was just time to go'

Apr. 2—CHAMPAIGN — Tim Lavin has a little more time to work on his golf game now.

"I used to golf a little bit here and there," Lavin said. "Now that summers won't be as busy and I won't be back in the fall, hopefully I can get out and maybe pick that up again and see how that goes."

Last week, the veteran Centennial boys' basketball coach made it official: he will retire at the end of this school year. Lavin has coached at the high school level for 36 years, including the last 23 seasons in charge of the Chargers, and taught for 32. His wife is also getting ready to retire, and he said the timing just felt right.

"I just thought it was time," Lavin said. "There are a lot of hours put into coaching and teaching, and I wasn't quite sure I had the energy to come back. It was just time to go."

Lavin said it'll be "strange" in a few months when he's not getting ready for a new school year and then basketball season, but he's looking forward to some reduced stress and more time to relax.

"We had a pretty good run," he said.

Lavin ends his coaching career as the Chargers' all-time wins leader with a record of 404-253 and guided Centennial to a 2009 Class 3A state championship along with a fourth-place finish at the 2010 3A state tournament. He reached the 400-win mark in the team's final month of this past season and joked that he wanted no part of trying to get to 500.

"That would have been a few years down the road," Lavin said with a laugh. "I certainly don't have the energy for that."

Lavin is happy with the way he went out. Sure, he would have liked to have won his eighth regional title — the Chargers lost 60-57 in overtime to Decatur MacArthur in the championship game — but Centennial's season record ended at 20-11, its first 20-win season since 2015.

"It had been a while since we hit that 20-win plateau," Lavin said. "These guys worked hard. It would have been nice to go a little bit further, but 20 wins is a pretty good season. It was a nice one to go out on."

Lavin is a stoic coach and doesn't show a lot of emotion, but he was sentimental when reflecting on his favorite parts of his tenure.

He talked about watching class after class mature as both basketball players and young men. He talked about the camaraderie among everyone in the program.

He talked about the competition and how strategizing for opponents and seeing preparation pay off "makes it fun."

After thinking on it a little longer, Lavin talked about how he'll miss simply spending time with his assistant coaches and discussing the game as well as life.

"I was fortunate to have so many assistants who really knew the game of basketball and were great working with teenagers," Lavin said. "I guess I kind of took them for granted, but as so many have texted the last few days, I realized how fortunate I was to have such dedicated assistants and good people."

Lavin still has a couple months of teaching left to go along with finalizing next year's basketball schedule, but he's coming up on a time where he'll have plenty of free time.

So, what is Lavin going to do with it?

Other than taking more trips to the golf course, his three children are spread around the country in Denver, New York City and Chicago. He's planning to catch up on spending time with family.

"Hopefully, we'll get to go here and there and visit them," Lavin said. "Of course, I've got family of my own up in Chicago. Thanksgivings and Christmases the last few years, you didn't really get to go anywhere, so maybe I'll get up there and do some other kind of traveling."