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Bergtraum’s Grezinsky departs on his own terms

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Ed Grezinsky’s decision to end his historic run as the girls’ basketball coach at Murry Bergtraum appears abrupt from the outside, but makes plenty of sense if you know the man.

Grezinsky, who grew up in East Flatbush and was the defensive coordinator of the Abraham Lincoln football team in the early 1990s, resigned as coach in the last week of October with the start of the season closing in. He was wrestling with the decision that was reported last week. Grezinsky, who has been at Bergtraum since 1991, had every intention of coming back to try to reclaim the Public School Athletic League Class AA city title after seeing his record of 15-straight crowns snapped by Francis Lewis last year.

“It was very, very hard to walk away,” said the 60-year-old Grezinsky. “You think about doing it, and then when you actually have to do it, it’s a very, very difficult thing to do. I had a lot of misgivings about it.”

For Grezinsky it came down to the lack of the usual support from the Bergtraum administration, which is on its fifth principal in seven years. Bregtraum was also split up into three smaller high schools. Grezinsky is an extremely detail-orientated coach, and he believed the commitment from all involved had to be perfect for him to continue.

Grezinsky’s desire to give his kids the best chance to win and go to college never wavered during his time on the bench. He scouted opponents to exhaustion. Though retired from the school system, he continued to push his kids academically in a school seen as failing. Eventually, it all became too much.

“People on the outside don’t understand what you have to go through, and they don’t understand how much time and effort I put into this and how hard I worked,” Grezinsky said.

He did feel bad about leaving seniors Ashanae McLaughlin and Alexandra Smith, who played as freshmen on the varsity. The program had another championship run in it, going out on top last year would have been easier.

“I could say, ‘okay, I have 16 in a row, let somebody come in an try to break that record,’ ” he said. “The fact that we lost last year made it even harder because you want to come back the next year and win it again.”

The desire to coach is still there, just not at Bergtraum right now. Grezinsky said he is enjoying his new-found free time after 36 years of coaching football and basketball, but he said he is open to a return at the high school or college level in the right situation.

“I enjoy the coaching, I really do,” Grezinsky said. “I still have the love of the game, the competitiveness of the game I enjoy. All the other stuff I had to deal with, I didn’t enjoy.”

Anyone would be lucky to have him on their bench. Grezisky won five state Federation titles, two national championships, and sent more than 50 kids to college on scholarships.

Whether you agree with his decision or not, his credentials earned him the right to go out on his terms — and come back on his terms if he so chooses.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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