After two decades with the program, Ron Vander Molen is no longer the boys varsity basketball coach at Ripon Christian.
Vander Molen said he was relieved of his coaching duties by Ripon Christian Schools Superintendent Eric Segaar during a meeting to discuss his teaching and coaching roles on campus on Thursday.
He will remain a P.E. teacher at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
Segaar and first-year athletic director Kevin Tameling declined comment.
Vander Molen led Ripon Christian to a league championship in its return to the Trans-Valley League this past winter. The Knights were a heavy favorite to reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V final before junior Travis Vander Molen suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Ripon Christian finished the season 19-6, but bowed out in the quarterfinal round after a 56-54 loss to eighth-seeded Forest Lake Christian. The Knights were the top seed in the Division V tournament.
Vander Molen said Segaar and Tameling used this past season to evaluate his performance. He said his dismissal comes at the behest of the Ripon Christian Schools board.
“Although I never got any feedback, they said they were watching,” Vander Molen said of Segaar and Tameling. “They basically said there were some board members that wanted the program to go in a different direction.”
Vander Molen’s successor will have big shoes to fill.
His teams have won league championships in four of the last five years, including a string of three undefeated seasons in the Southern League from 2010-2012.
In 2009, Ripon Christian reached the Division V final at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, where it lost to Victory Christian in overtime, 68-64.
Vander Molen’s tenure at Ripon Christian began as a freshman coach in 1993. He coached four years at the sophomore level before embarking on the first of two stints as varsity coach.
After seven years at the helm of the program, Vander Molen stepped away for two years. He returned in 2007 and picked up right where he left off. In the last eight years, Ripon Christian has won 68 percent of its games. In the last six seasons, the Knights’ have had a winning percentage over .771.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished at Ripon Christian. The program has been so strong for a program that doesn’t recruit. We’re more like a public school program. I’ve been successful with the players I’ve been given,” Vander Molen said. “We’ve been steadily successful, so I’m proud of that.”
Vander Molen, who won two Arizona state championships with Desert Christian in 1990-91, has no plans to coach again. He’s grateful for the experiences and the players that have competed for him, including his son, senior Danny Vander Molen.
“I have no plans to coach again. Not right now,” he said. “I’m not fighting it. I was glad I was able to coach through Danny.”