Mary Ann Grimes is going out close to the top.
During her third season as Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball coach this winter, Grimes made it back to the state tournament for the first time since she led Dresden Tri-Valley to a Class AAA runner-up finish in 1985.
Exactly a month of reflection after the Pioneers lost to Twinsburg 73-63 in a Division I state semifinal March 15, Grimes decided it was time to end a coaching career that lasted 36 years.
She told Orange’s players April 15.
“It’s time to move on,” Grimes said. “I need to spend more time with my brothers and my daughter. I had a great time.”
Grimes, whose daughter, Brandy, lives in Denver, plans to remain on as the community education coordinator for Dublin City Schools. She retired from teaching from that district in 2010.
Orange went 69-8 in three seasons under Grimes, including back-to-back district runner-up finishes her first two seasons.
With six seniors who included Indiana-recruit Taylor Agler this winter, the Pioneers won their third consecutive OCC-Capital Division championship and beat Dublin Coffman 60-47 on March 2 for their first district title.
On March 8, Orange defeated North Canton Hoover 61-55 to advance to state for the first time.
Grimes, whose career record is 519-248, also had coaching stints at West Lafayette Ridgewood, Tri-Valley, Coffman and the University of Akron. She was an assistant at Ridgewood in 1980 when it was the Class AA state runner-up.
In the final four seasons of her 12-year tenure coaching Coffman, the Shamrocks went 88-9 and won four league titles. The Shamrocks were first in the final Division I state poll in 2008, when Grimes was named the state’s Coach of the Year, and second in 2009.
She stepped away from coaching after the 2008-09 season for one season before returning in 2010-11 to take over at Orange.
“I went to the (women’s Final Four in New Orleans) and I have a motor home, so I had lots of hours behind the wheel to think about things,” Grimes said. “I know I don’t have the energy to keep (coaching). I’ll probably always have a passion for basketball and always love it. Olentangy’s a great school district and everybody treated me so well.”