After six seasons with the Pine River-Backus boys’ basketball team, John Riewer is stepping down as head coach.

“I’ve enjoyed my six years as head coach, and I did the best with the ability I had to teach the kids the game of basketball and life,” Riewer said. “I think my actions spoke louder than my words. I’m going to miss it, but it’s time for a change - for me personally and maybe for the program.”

In Riewer’s tenure, the Tigers amassed a record of 104-62, including a 41-14 record in the past two seasons. He was also the Northland Conference Coach of the Year in 2019.

His decision to step down as basketball coach stems from his desire to spend more time in the summer outside the gymnasium, where he would open the doors for athletes and coach summer tournaments.

“I no longer have the energy to do the necessary things a high school basketball coach needs to do in the offseason to continue building the program,” Riewer said. “I don’t want to give up my summers anymore … I think in today’s high school athletics, more is expected of the head coach outside of the season.”

--- --- --- --- ---

“I’ve enjoyed my six years as head coach, and I did the best with the ability I had to teach the kids the game of basketball and life.” - Pine River-Backus boys’ basketball coach, John Riewer

--- --- --- --- ---

He appreciates the support he has received from the school’s administration over the years, as well as that of the athletes, parents and fans.

He will still teach physical education at PR-B, entering his 35th year as an educator in the fall, and will continue coaching softball in the spring, as he feels he still has a lot to offer students and enjoys the people he works with. As for his summers and his evenings, Riewer hopes to spend more time with those closest to him.

“You can always make more money, but you can’t get back time,” Riewer said. “I plan to spend mine with my kids, my grandkids, my fiance Debbie and my friends … I would rather be golfing, fishing and traveling in the summer than sitting in the gym. That is not fair to the kids or the community, and that is why I am stepping down.”

In an effort to stay involved with the game he loves, Riewer intends to become an official and take in varsity basketball games from a new perspective. He has done some officiating at the junior high and junior varsity levels, but this should be a new experience for him. He feels his experience as both a player and coach will help him gain a better understanding of what each individual on the court is thinking.

“You can’t play without officials,” he said. “I can’t say I always agreed with their calls, but I know they are doing the best they can, regardless of my viewpoint. I think I’ll have a better rapport with the coaches and understand what they are going through in a game well enough that I can have a dialogue with them, because I’ve been there.”

Riewer hopes to serve as a mentor of sorts for whomever the district hires to replace him - a person he hopes is as enthusiastic and passionate about the sport as a young John Riewer.

“It takes a lot to be a head coach if you want to do it right,” Riewer said. “I just hope I gave the program some stability and direction moving forward.”

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at