Hermiston boys basketball coach Casey Arstein has never been one to seek the limelight, preferring the focus be put on his players.
All that changed when Arstein turned in his resignation at the end of the season.
“It was a tough decision,” said Arstein, who teaches at Sandstone Middle School. “It came down to what was best for our family. It will be a good change, but I will miss the competition and the relationship with the kids.”
The Hermiston boys job is one of three openings in the Mid-Columbia Conference. Steve Davis stepped down from the Chiawana girls job after 18 years, and Walla Walla boys coach Mike Patterson is out after one season, citing personal reasons. Patterson will continue to coach the boys golf team.
Arstein, 36, said the decision to step aside was made in July after he and wife found out they were expecting their first child in February.
Arstein and his wife Jen welcomed their daughter, Aliyah, on Feb. 28.
“We both work full time, and my wife is in grad school,” he said. “We didn’t want our daughter in day care from 7 to 7.”
Arstein took the reins of the boys program at the start of the 2016-17 season. He had been an assistant for the better part of 10 years.
Arstein coached under Larry Usher and Adam Strom (now the women’s coach at Yakima Valley), but once Strom left, the Bulldogs went through five head coaches in five years before Arstein took over for Dave Ego.
“It was very inconsistent,” Arstein said. “I got the opportunity to be the head coach, and it was challenging and rewarding. The kids deserve to have someone who will help them be competitive and win games.”
Over the course of three seasons, Arstein’s teams went 43-28.
His first season, Hermiston finished second in the Columbia River Conference. They lost a state play-in game to Parkrose 65-50 and finished the season 16-8.
The following year, the Bulldogs won the CRC title with a 7-2 record (12-12 overall), then lost a state play-in game to Crater 51-43.
This season, the Bulldogs jumped the river to the Mid-Columbia Conference. In their first year, they finished 10-6 in MCC play and 15-8 overall. They were the top seed for the 3A teams at regionals, but fell short of state.
“I thought we would be competitive,” Arstein said of the MCC. “We have the kids and the coaches who put in the work. We have committed players who were willing to play fall ball and in the summer.”
The Bulldogs were led by a talented senior class that included Andrew James, Jordan Ramirez, Ryne Andreason, Cesar Ortiz, Adrian Mendez and Cole Smith.
“I definitely had committed seniors,” Arstein said. “They were sophomores when I took over and I got them for three years. I will miss the kids coming up.”