CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) – After 450 games and 322 wins, as head coach of Robert C. Byrd for 19 seasons, Bill Bennett is retiring.
“At the beginning of my life, I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to do this. I was a factory worker, married, had kids, and felt like this was the life I had. I’d save three personal days at the factory to go to the state tournament with my buddies and watch.
“You can imagine how I felt the first time I walked out on this floor 30 years ago. I was at Bridgeport High School as an assistant and was able to go and be introduced. Now it’s maybe 28, 29 or 30 games that I took out on that floor over there.
“I never took it for granted. I always thought back to those days in the factory to sit up there and watch.
After leading a veteran Flying Eagles group in Charleston, Bennett said the time was right.
“I’m going to be 66 here in a few weeks. I sent my retirement letter for my teaching position in January. It’s something I’ve been thinking about and praying about for the past few years, ”Bennett said. “Thirty-three years is a long time. I just felt it was time for me to move on and chase my grandkids and golf balls and enjoy the rest of my life.
Bennett almost hung up the whistle after the 2019-20 season, but didn’t think it was the right time after the pandemic ended the Eagles’ season on the day of their regional final.
“My wife convinced me to stay another year. I just felt like I wanted to be with these guys, this senior class, ”Bennett said.
This bond is what made the job special for Bennett.
“I had so many kids that I dated, girls and boys and other coaches. There are a lot of things that I will miss, but the relationships with the other coaches and with the kids are what I will miss the most. My prayer is that I made a positive impact on someone along the way and maybe helped them a bit, ”Bennett said. “It has been a blessing to do what I have done for these 33 years. I thank God every day that I was able to do this. It was a bit surreal. It went so fast.
Sports editor Michael Minnich can be reached at 304-626-1441, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @michaelminnich.