ESCANABA - Eric Lundin is going to keep his purple basketball shirts but he is changing schools and program levels.
After one season as varsity girls basketball coach at Rapid River, Lundin will be the junior varsity girls coach at Gladstone High School next season. He replaces Lorrie Botruff, who held the position since 2007. Botruff resigned because her daughter Jammie will be playing basketball next season at Grand Valley State University.
"This was a tough decision, one of the toughest decisions I've made in my life," Lundin said Friday.
The decision was made for family reasons, with his oldest daughter Megan, 5, starting school in Gladstone in fall. He and his wife Paula, a 12-year chemistry teacher at Gladstone, also have a daughter, Abigail, who will be three in August.
"It was with mixed feelings," said Lundin. "I'm excited because I will be a long-time coach where my kids are going to school and my wife teaches. I'm going to miss them (at Rapid River).
"Hopefully the kids had fun last year. I know I did. I will miss the Rapid River community."
The Rockets were 14-7 last year, ending a string of four losing seasons.
Lundin, who lives on the Stonington Peninsula, is a Rapid River graduate and works at Upper Peninsula State Bank.
He met with the Rapid River players recently to tell them. "This was strictly a family decision," he told them. "You have to take the opportunity when they present themselves."
Karl Dollhopf is Gladstone's varsity coach and former GHS boys varsity coach Dale Hongisto is the volunteeer varsity aide.
"I'm looking forward to things I will learn from them," said Lundin.
Lundin met with Rapid River athletic director Rick Pepin after the season and talked about the family situation, indicating he would look at opportunities in Gladstone if they became available.
"Two weeks later the opening came," said Pepin. "He applied, he was interviewed, they offered and he accepted. He feels bad because of the position he is leaving us in, but I respect his decision because he is doing it for his family. He didn't expect it (an opportunity) to come out of the blue.
"I told him I stepped down from coaching (varsity boys basketball in 2011) because it was the best decision for my family. These things happen."
Pepin was pleased with the job Lundin did in his first season as a coach.
"He did more than a quality job in the short time he was here. He was a role model for our girls, the student body and the community. I told him I'm sad to see you go," he said.
"I thought we would be set for many years to come and we would have some stability in the program. You can't control these things."
Pepin said the position will be posted internally for a week but does not anticipate any applicants since previous openings were not sought by faculty members. An outside posting will then take place.
Pepin said Lauren Marshall, who coached the jayvees for the first time last season, has moved to Marquette. She was a substitute teacher in the area last year.
"I will talk to Lauren before the end of next week to get my ducks in a row," said Pepin, who would prefer to have an on-staff coach but would be surprised to see it happen.
Although Lundin was not on staff, Pepin said he brought "professionalism, he brought discipline and he definitely brought the love of the game. Sprinkle passion on top of that because he is a Rocket alumni. He was so organized, we communicated so well. He made my job much easier."