Staff photos by Tom Kelly IV Bob Schnure, who has coached the girls basketball team at Downingtown High School, and then at Downingtown East when the
Staff photos by Tom Kelly IV Bob Schnure, who has coached the girls basketball team at Downingtown High School, and then at Downingtown East when the schools split announced his retirement. (Tom Kelly IV)

UWCHLAN -- Even though you knew logically that it could not happen, you still thought that there wouldn't be a day that Downingtown East girls basketball coach Bob Schnure would be on the sideline.

However, that day came Thursday.

With his wife, Fran Baliotti, at his side, Schnure confirmed that he will retire as girls basketball coach. The announcement ends a 35-year varsity career that is one of the most decorated in the county and around Pennsylvania.

"I think what Bob has done in the 30-some years he's been here could be summed up in word, it's interigty,' said Downingtown East athletic director Jack Helm. "From day one. Everything he's done it's been above board, it's been his way. Everything he was doing, we tried to use as a philosphy on how we dealt with our kids. He's a teacher through and through, it's been a pleasure to watch what he has done.'

Staff photos by Tom Kelly IV Bob Schnure, who has coached the girls basketball team at Downingtown High School, and then at Downingtown East when the
Staff photos by Tom Kelly IV Bob Schnure, who has coached the girls basketball team at Downingtown High School, and then at Downingtown East when the schools split announced his retirement. Here, Schnure (second from right) shares some of his stats during his career with Athletic Director Jack Helm (left) Bob's wife Fran Ballotti, Downingtown West head coach Dave Johnson (center), and Bob's assistant coach Jim Schmidt who is also retiring. (Tom Kelly IV)

Schnure leaves with a mark of 769-236 in 1,005 games. He is 298-68 in the Ches-Mont League with 20 league or division titles, the last one coming this past season. He owns 11 District 1 championships and five PIAA titles in 24 appearances.He has has had four different winning streaks of 25 or more games, the most impressive being a 56-game run between January 4, 1997 and December 8, 1998.

"I have some mixed feelings here,' said Schnure. "My joke used to be that I'll stay around as long as Joe Paterno, it's not as funny now as it used to be a couple of years ago. It's always been on my mind about when this day will happen or how it would come about. Everybody knows I love doing this, it's been a passion for me and I've been blessed to be around so many people.

"I don't feel like I've given up basketball, some guys like to golf or go to the races, but I like basketball and I want to keep doing things with basketball. I just really felt it was time to step back from me being the leader of this program. Fran said I took off a little in April and August, but these days, I need a little more time off than that.'

Every successful basketball coach needs players to get that way, and Schnure had a boatload of them during his tenure, including names like Tora Suber, Tina Nicholson, one of his current assistants, Jamie Walsh, Emma Moretzsohn, Julie Brophy, Meghan Kerrigan, Kristen Blye and his daughters, Caitlyn and Molly.

For the 67-year-old Schnure, it wasn't one incident or a snap decision that led him to where he was on Thursday.

"It was a slow process to settle in and say this is what I gotta do,' he said. "So, it was a slow proccess and it didn't even start this year. It's tough going through a season, you're exhausted by March. You wonder how much you can do this, but I always got recharged. This time around I just felt it was time.

His best coaching job may have been the last couple, battling small numbers and injuries, Schnure and the Cougars still managed 15 wins in 2013 and 19 this past season.

"It was such a great honor knowing you were playing for one of the best coaches in girls basketball,' said sophomore Paige Warfel. "Every since I was in middle shool, I looked forward to playing for him.'

"I don't know how we got so many wins the last couple of years,' said longtime assistant Jim Schmidt. "It's just like he had a magic wand. Last year in practices, he and I actually had to get out there because we didn't have enough kids. To win the number of games and to get into districts was amazing. And this year, to win as many games and the league was pur magic.'

Playing for such an accomplished coach added extra pressure and incentive for his team.

"It makes you work really hard knowing that he had such great teams and you want to add to that.'

Warfel said the players didn't know of Schnure's plans before their District 1 game last week against Penn Wood. The Cougars lost, 60 50, and then the news was broken to them.

"It was sad,' said Warfel. "It was just such an honor playing for him.'

Despite playing schools from across the United States, the rivalry he is most identified with was just a matter of minutes away -- the one with Downingtown West.

The one person with a unique perspective of working with and coaching against Schnure is Dave Johnson, who was Schnure's assistant from 1996 to 2003, before going on take the head job at West.

"He's taught the game of basketball to so many people through his camps,' said Johnson. "His team were business-like, they came in and did their jobs. Probably, everybody in Pennsylvania knows who he is and have felt his wrath at some point and time.

"Personally, he taught me a lot. He introduced me to his family. I consider him family. I think my wife considers him family. He taught me so much, he showed me the game, how to be a coach and then, how to be a better coach. I hope I'm doing a good job for myself and for him. I can't say enough.'

Helm said that the job will be posted soon and then they will gather applications and start the interview process. Helm gave no specific timetable, but hope to have a coach in place sooner rather than later.

Schnure said that he intends to keep his hands in the sport, but first comes a vacation to his second home in Maine.

Depsite the emotion and shock still on the faces of players and those close to the program, Schnure insisted that this was not a funereal.

But Helm vocalized the opinion of many in the Downingtown and girls basketball communities.

"There is only one Bob Schnure,' he said. "And there won't be another Bob Schnure.'