Bill Scott says he practically begged the Bonner Springs administration to let him start a high school tennis program. The school had no courts on site and no teachers on staff who were particularly interested in coaching the sport.
Scott was persuasive.
“They finally say they would be willing to try it and let me coach for one year,” he said. “But then they said, ‘but we don’t think it’s gonna work.’”
That was in 1978. Some 40 years later, he’s the rock of the program, the only coach of the girls and boys teams in school history, filling a role grander than he envisioned. His teams have been represented at the Kansas state tournament 47 times in a combined 80 seasons.
But this weekend will be his finale. Scott, 69, has announced his retirement from coaching and teaching after this weekend’s Kansas Class 4A state tournament in Winfield, Kan.
“Everything’s been emotional,” Scott said. “It’s been kind of a farewell tour for a concert goer. Anywhere I go, coaches have made a big deal. I even had two bouquets of flowers delivered to me.”
The Bonner Springs doubles team of seniors Coleton Nelson and Foster Hoch will close out Scott’s coaching career. The tandem is 20-3 this season after placing second at the Kansas Class 4A regional in Topeka to qualify for state.
Scott has coached one state-winning team during his career, Josh Mortensen and Matt Kerl in 2005. That duo was undefeated and returned to Bonner Springs this month to practice against Nelson and Hoch.
But as he recaps his 40-year career, Scott focuses little on the wins and losses. It’s about the growth of the program, he says, which has tangible expansion. When it began, the students carpooled from Bonner Springs to Wyandotte County Park for practice. Twelve years later, he convinced he school district to build a pair of courts behind the middle school. In 2001, Bonner Springs added four new courts at the high school.
“I would say that’s one of our biggest accomplishments,” Scott said. “And just the fact that we’ve always had large teams. We’ve always had at least 20 kids — boys and girls teams — come out to play. Some of them have never had a racket before. I’m going to miss watching kids like that develop their game.”
He plans to stay active. Scott has completed 17 full marathons and 38 half marathons in his life, and he plans to immediately start training for his next run, wherever that might be. He also recently bought a new bicycle and hopes to bike across the United States, a route that requires 55 days.
“Hey, I’ve got time now,” he said.
Spring sports state-championship schedule
Kansas boys tennis: Friday-Saturday
Missouri boys golf: Monday-Tuesday
Kansas girls swimming, May 17-19
Missouri Class 1-2 boys and girls track, May 18-19
Kansas boys golf, May 21
Kansas baseball, May 24-25
Kansas softball, May 24-25
Kansas girls soccer, May 25-26
Missouri Class 3-5 boys and girls track, May 25-26
Kansas boys and girls track, May 25-26
Missouri boys tennis, May 25-26
Missouri baseball, May 28-June 2
Missouri girls soccer, May 30-June 2