Sports

Coupeville football coach Ron Bagby hangs up cleats

Note: Four high school head coaches resigned this school year: long-time coaches Ron Bagby (Coupeville football) and John Matzen (Oak Harbor golf) and both girls basketball coaches, Blake Severns (Coupeville) and Brett McLeod (Oak Harbor). This is the first of four stories about those resignations.

When the Coupeville football players trotted onto Mickey Clark Field last week for their spring camp, something was missing.

That something, or someone, was Ron Bagby, the Wolves’ varsity coach for 26 years. Bagby resigned from his coaching duties at the close of last season.

High-school activities, especially in smaller towns, are often the hub of the community. It is hard to quantify the impact (and it certainly shouldn’t be minimized) that a coach has on his players and their home town. Bagby put his stamp on Central Whidbey.

He said he hopes his athletes “learned a lot of life lessons and that they made memories they would not forget.”

He added, “When you are playing the game of football, you go through things as a team that you can only understand if you have played this game.”

Bagby said that he wants to be remembered by his players as a coach who was “fun, demanding, emotional and caring.”

Besides coaching varsity football for 26 years, Bagby was head track coach for seven years, head basketball coach for four and assistant basketball coach for two.

He said his football teams won 120 games and dropped about the same “give or take a few.”

Bagby’s team qualified for the playoffs many times, and the Wolves’ most successful season was 1990 when Coupeville won the league title and advanced to the state quarterfinals.

His 1987 basketball team earned a spot in the state tournament.

So, after 26 years, why call it quits? He jokingly answered, “I did not like the cold weather and wind, I was tired of sleeping in dorms during football camp every summer and, finally, because every time they ran by and hit me with their shoulder pads it hurt. I guess I am getting old.”

Bagby will continue to teach physical education at Coupeville High School for “several more years” and has not ruled out returning to the sidelines sometime in the future.

Coupeville High School principal and athletic director Sheldon Rosenkrance said Bagby made “great connections” with his student-athletes and that he “appreciates the time and effort” Bagby dedicated to his craft. He added that Bagby is “a great asset to the school and community.”

Willie Smith, who has coached with Bagby the past 15 years, said few people know how hard Bagby works and “what a heart he has for kids.” According to Smith, Bagby “fosters a comfort level among his players where they can feel a part of a program whether they are a senior stud or the freshman who rarely sees the field.”

Smith added, “His kids know that he will fight for them and will always push them to be the best athlete and person they can be.

“He creates an atmosphere that generates responsibility, high expectations and strong moral ethics that is sometimes missing in many of the programs around our league and state.”

Smith also praised Bagby’s treatment of his assistant coaches: “I’ve always felt like I was heard and that my position was as important as his. He doesn’t have an ego when it comes to game planning or decision-making and does a great job of making all of his coaches, middle and high school, feel as though they are an important part of the whole program.”

Bagby said, “I will miss the interaction with the athletes. I will still be with them during school, but it is not quite the same as when you are with them in the dorms during camp, early in the morning during the summer, spending the night with them at elementary school, the bus trips and the Friday lights.”

Those Friday lights may have dimmed for Bagby, but they shine bright in the legacy he has left.

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