Brett Lee is a battler.
So he wanted to make one thing clear about why he won't return as Lima Senior's head football coach.
"I didn’t quit," he said. "That's the most important issue. We talk about that with the kids. If I resigned, then I was quiting."
Lee's coaching contract will not renewed for next year by Lima Senior superintendent Jill Ackerman.
In two seasons, Lee went 1-19 at Lima Senior. The Spartans compiled their first 0-10 season in school history this past year.
Ackerman said she has spoken to Lee to tell him she is not recommending him for another contract. He had been under a one-year contract.
“It is just about a combination of things, all of which I went over with him in December,” she said.
Ackerman does not need school board approval. If she were to recommend that his contract be renewed, then it would go to the board.
Lee was upset at not being able to finish what he started.
"The focus was to rebuild and focus on the youth," Lee said. "Clearly, people were not patient about it. I'm not happy about it, but there are no regrets. ... Someone has to stop the carousel of coaches at Lima Senior."
Before Lee, Darnell Collins went four years with the Spartans and compiled a record of 8-32. Rick Vaughn came right before than and went 7-23 in three years.
Bob Wolfe went 1-9 in 2003 in one season. Matt Kemper had a two-year record of 3-17 right after state championship coach Leonard Rush stepped down after going 5-5 in 2000.
The Spartans' last winning record was 6-5 under Rush in 1999, three years after the Spartans won the state title in 1996.
Lee said his team's numbers were down and he played many underclassemen.
It also didn't help that the Spartans are playing in one of the toughest leagues in the state, the The Three Rivers Athletic Conference, with the likes of Toledo St. John's, Toledo Whitmer, Toledo Central Catholic, Toledo St. Francis, Findlay, Oregon Clay and Fremont Ross.
"Our numbers were down and we worked with what we had. We had to start young," Lee said. "We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing and they had two years with our philosophy. We knew this year would be extremely difficult with the schedule we played. One of our running backs was out after three games because of an injury. We also had off-the-field issues. When you face that at Lima Senior, wow, they aren't forgiving."
Lee said his young team was making progress.
"The freshmen and the sophomores were getting better by the end of the year," he said. "We were looking forward. We made progress at the junior high level. We had 30 at the junior high and before we had 18.
"There were a lot of bright things, but statistic-wise, it's hard to defend 1-19. No one wants their name next to 0-10. That was devastating. I felt bad for kids, but I told them we had to stand up and keep fighting.
"In all honesty, I'm not naive. I heard the rumblings," Lee said. "This didn't surprise me or catch me off guard."
The job has already been posted. The deadline to apply is Jan. 18.