For many, retirement after decades of service - in any field of work - entails some travel, perhaps, and some relaxation, definitely.
Not all, however, elect to follow the course of the typical retiree.
In fact, two from our area - Mel Swanson of Sherman and Rich Clifford of Cassadaga Valley - have chosen a somewhat different route.
Rich Clifford of Cassadaga Valley, left, and Mel Swanson of Sherman have retired from teaching, but not from coaching basketball.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
Yes, instead of being forced by their employers to choose absolutely one way or another, they have the best of both worlds - retirement from the work from which they're ready to step away and continued involvement with the areas or which they remain most passionate.
In this case, that passion is coaching high school basketball.
Despite retiring several years ago (Swanson three and Clifford seven), they are but two in a very select group that have been asked to remain high school head coaches despite no longer holding teaching positions.
Not many are allowed the privilege, Cassadaga Valley athletic director Mark Petersen said, but in Clifford's case (and undoubtedly Swanson's as well) it has been earned through years of hard work and success.
"Not a lot of schools (kept those that have retired in coaching positions)," he explained, "but Rich, he's a special guy and has been an important part of the Cassadaga Valley community, school and athletics program for so long that he's just a good fit with our kids."
Holding on to Clifford, Petersen continued, was a no brainer.
"Basketball is (Rich's) passion," he said. "He just wanted to keep right on coaching if the school district would allow it, and they said, 'Of course, stay on.'"
Both of the longtime - and successful - coaches (Swanson is also the Sherman athletic director) couldn't be happier with the arrangements.
"I really enjoy it," said Swanson, who recently recorded his 1,000th career coaching victory. "It's great. I'm doing all the things I enjoy. I watch my grandson during the day, I go in for practice and do my (athletic director) work at home while he's taking a nap."
Added Clifford, "Oh, it's wonderful. All I have to worry about is my family first and then coaching. I don't have to worry about getting up in the morning and grading English papers, which I did for 38 years, and I can just focus on and give time to the kids.
"As long as (the school district) is happy with me doing it, I'll continue. Right now I'm taking it one day at a time, but I do really enjoy it."
Some may wonder if being retired, yet still coaching, is an advantage over others who currently do both teaching and coaching, but that isn't quite so, Swanson said.
"Now that I'm old I do get a nap, that's the one advantage," he said with a smile. "No, I don't think there's really any advantages or disadvantages to it. You've still got to work the players and you've still got to get them to execute. I have a little more time to look over another team's players and statistics and maybe get an idea of what we'll see, but most of the teams we compete with to try and move on we already know all their players really well anyway. So it's not much of an advantage at all."
Either way, given the increased pressures on coaches, Swanson believes fewer and fewer of his colleagues will have the same opportunity he's had.
"It's getting harder and harder for coaches to coach this long," he said. "The pressure on them through the school and parents and outside stuff is much tougher than back when I got started."
Their continued longevity is, in short, a rare opportunity; one that both will be more than happy to take advantage of for as long as possible.