The winningest basketball coach in the history of the Shore Conference has announced his retirement. George Sourlis, who guided the Rumson-Fair Haven girls program for the last 30 years made the announcement today after meeting with school administration and members of his team. Sourlis’s career record of 653-199 includes 14 NJSIAA sectional championships, five Group titles and five trips to the Tournament of Champions along with six WOBM Christmas Classic championships.

Sourlis told me today that the main reason for the retirement is simple….”it’s just time.” His 2015-16 team posted a record to 22-7 and losses such standouts as Nicole Morris, Stephanie Lesko and Sydney Sabino to graduation but returns players like Tori Hyduke and Hannah Scanlan. Sourlis said “I love this team, they were great to coach and gave me everything they had.”

The 53-year old began coaching at his alma mater at the age of 23, just a year removed from graduating college. Sourlis’ sister Dorothy urged him to take the coaching vacancy at that time as she was a sophomore and would go on to have an outstanding career. He credits the late Art Harmon who was the school’s athletic director for pushing him over the top and the rest as they say his history.

When I asked Sourlis if the retirement announcement was a surprise he drew a comparison to the fictional character Forest Gump who ran across the country for more than three years before finally stopping and saying…”and just like that my running days were over.” For Sourlis the run lasted thirty years and it was an amazing one full of highlights and accomplishments. He is most proud of the fact that every girl who played four years in the Bulldogs program was part of a state championship at least once in her career.

Central Regional coach John Truhan who coached against Sourlis numerous times while at Toms River South and Colts Neck said he thinks most of him more as a friend than a rival coach. “I admired the relationship he had with his Dad, he not only made us better coaches he also made us better fathers and husbands.” Truhan added, “What stands out is how gracious and classy he, his players and family were to opposing players and coaches no matter what was shown on the scoreboard. That is what I admire most about him.”

The personable Sourlis gives all the credit to the talented players who wore the Rumson uniform and the many outstanding assistant coaches who sat on the bench with him over three decades. While he is walking away from coaching he has plenty on his plate as the owner and manager of real estate properties throughout Monmouth County. However he will now have more time for his family…wife Nikie and children Teddy, Kyra and Eleni along with his favorite pro teams (Jets, Mets & Rangers).

Sourlis’ retirement marks the end of an incredible era for Rumson-Fair Haven as he is a coaching giant who will be greatly missed.