Burlington Twp. Coach Resigns New Duties As A Principal Sparked Ken Faulkner's Move. His Teams Won 521 Games In 24 Years.

Posted: February 25, 1996

Despite still being passionate about the sport, despite having a chance to someday become the winningest boys' basketball coach in South Jersey history, Burlington Township High's Ken Faulkner announced yesterday that he was walking away from his job and away from a gym named in his honor.

Without any regrets.

``Some people get caught up in themselves and don't step back and look at other things in life,'' said Faulkner, 47, winner of 521 games in nearly a quarter-century at Burlington Township. ``I don't want to be like that. Basketball is still very important to me, but now I'm ready for another challenge.''

That challenge is his new position as the principal of the Thomas O. Hopkins Middle School in Burlington Township.

While principal Ed Steinmetz battled an illness, Faulkner served as the school's acting principal for 14 months, until Steinmetz retired on Dec. 31. Faulkner was officially named the principal on Jan. 17.

Faulkner said that in order to be an effective principal, he was leaving a coaching position he had held since he was 24 years old.

``I've worked hard for the opportunity, and it's an opportunity I'm ready to accept - as I did in coaching many years ago,'' he said.

During Faulkner's 24 seasons of coaching at Burlington Township, the Falcons compiled a 521-129 record and won 13 division titles, seven sectional crowns, and three Group 1 state championships (1985, 1987, 1992).

``I don't think any coach could have had more support - or excitement - in a career than I've been blessed with,'' said Faulkner, the third-winningest coach in South Jersey history.

A former star guard at Riverside High (Class of '66) and Campbell (N.C.) College, Faulkner knew that he was going to retire before this season started. He told his family members but kept his decision a secret from his players.

``It was strange, coaching with that in the back of my mind all year,'' he said. ``But I didn't coach any differently than I normally do.''

Faulkner's lineup was filled with underclassmen. All five starters will return next season.

``They'll have a veteran, experienced team next year, and that makes me feel good,'' said Faulkner, whose Falcons won their last two games to finish 12-12, enabling him to avoid the first losing season of his career.

Jay Flanagan, Burlington Township's freshman coach and a former head coach at Moorestown Friends and Riverside, is the leading candidate to replace Faulkner. Faulkner said that Flanagan would apply for the job and that Township's JV coach, Jim Mills, was not interested in the varsity position.

Faulkner said he would continue running summer basketball camps at Burlington Township and Moorestown Friends.

``That'll give me a chance to continue to do what I really love,'' he said.

During his career, Faulkner averaged about 22 wins per season. At that rate, he would have accumulated 807 victories if he had retired at age 60 - and likely would have been the winningest coach in South Jersey history.

Camden's Clarence Turner, who is in his mid-60s and still going strong, is the area's all-time leading winner with 632 victories.

Faulkner said it would have been selfish for him to stay in the game in order to get to the top of the win list.

``It would have been a phenomenal accomplishment, but it would have been selfish and unfulfilling when you look at all the other things I can accomplish in the field of education,'' he said. ``It's not all about one thing in life. I have other interests, and I encourage my players to have lots of interests. It's time to move on.''

Did he envision himself ever returning to coaching?

``You never say never,'' he said.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|