By CRAIG REMSBURG
For The Daily News
ISHPEMING - Coaching the Westwood High School boys varsity basketball team had always been Ryan Reichel's "dream job."
He held the position for three seasons until he was asked recently to share some of his duties with former WHS coach Irv Dieterle.
Deciding he wanted to develop the Patriots' program on his own, Reichel officially submitted his resignation last Friday.
"Irv and I have a great relationship," Reichel, 29, said Tuesday, noting when he attended WHS, he played for Dieterle. He also served as the coaching legend's assistant for a couple of seasons when Dieterle led the WHS junior varsity girls.
"But as a young coach, I wanted to stand on my own two feet," Reichel said. "I wanted it to be my program. I thought it would get tougher with it being Irv's program and not mine."
Instead of Reichel just calling Dieterle for advice, as he had done in the past, he was told by school officials to allow Dieterle to "evaluate and mentor" the program.
"It was a directive, instead of me calling Irv on my own," said Reichel, who went 5-14 this season and 14-47 over his three years as the Patriots' coach. "They didn't feel the program would be successful with just me."
WHS athletic director Jon Beckman said Dieterle's proposed role was put to Reichel as a "mentor, someone to bounce ideas off of.
"Situations come up during a season that Irv had been through many times (before retiring). We wanted Ryan to use Irv however he saw fit.
"Why wouldn't we do that?" Beckman added. "Irv was on board with it, too. In his own words, Ryan was like a son to him."
The Westwood AD, saying he was surprised at Reichel's resignation, said "it wasn't about wins and losses."
"That wasn't what led Ryan to turn in his resignation," Beckman said, adding the school district may wait until the 2014-15 teacher hiring season at the end of April to begin pursuing a replacement for Reichel in earnest.
"It was just not the right fit at this time. We thank Ryan for his service and wish him the best of luck."
Reichel said he had always made it known rebuilding the WHS program would be a five-year project.
"We were starting to turn the corner," the 2003 WHS graduate said. "We were undermanned, undersized and underskilled (this season).
"But the kids never gave up once. They were dedicated and hard workers. I love these kids. They've been phenomenal."
Reichel said having eight games this season either postponed and rescheduled - or canceled entirely - due to poor weather conditions made it tough.
Also having Ishpeming High School basketball players Alex Briones, Tyrus Millimaki and Ozzy Hakkarinen transfer from the NICE school district before he took over as the WHS coach was a factor.
"Having one or all three of them at Westwood would have made a difference," Reichel said. "They were big pieces to be without.
"I didn't lose any potential basketball players (to another school) since I got here at Westwood, though."
Reichel held open gyms on Sundays that became so successful, he had to offer two time slots to accommodate everyone.
He also spent many nights off scouting future Westwood opponents to better prepare his team for battle.
"I think I've done everything a coach could do," Reichel said, adding parental pressure was "nothing out of the ordinary."
He said he'd like to coach again if the right opportunity comes up.
"I love coaching and impacting kids," Reichel said.
"I appreciate the (coaching) opportunity the NICE district gave me.
"But obviously, I wasn't the right fit at the moment."