High School Coach of the Year: Bill Wagstaff
Want to find Bill Wagstaff? He’s the guy running down the hall after that kid who didn’t make the school’s baseball team. Or basketball team. Or any team. Wagstaff has news for that kid: He’s wanted on the tennis team.
Wagstaff’s no-cut policy at Mead High School in Spokane, Wash., has been allowing kids to learn the sport and play the game for years. As a former science teacher, he sees athletics as another method of education — “to teach kids lessons they wouldn’t learn in the classroom.”
His work in coaching Mead’s boys’ varsity team, and the middle school’s boys’ and girls’ teams, has brought him recognition, including the USTA’s Starfish Award in 2010, presented to selected coaches who run no-cut programs. He also won the 2009 USTA Pacific Northwest Section’s Outstanding Contribution to Community award, and the 2009 Greater Spokane League Coach of the Year. “Bill’s reach goes beyond coaching his teams,” says Bill Leong, CEO of the USTA PNW.
Karen Greene, the USTA’s director of high school tennis, says Wagstaff has “an uncanny understanding that coaching means not only reaching out to an athlete’s kinesthetic talent, but recognizing and understanding the entire student, pushing them to be the best in the classroom and on the court.”
And to Wagstaff, it’s still all about the experience. “The least-skilled kid on one of my teams played in eight matches last year. I doubt the least-skilled kid on a high school varsity football team played 8 minutes. They can go out, play hard and have fun. I’ll make sure they do.”
Tips for success
- Stop worrying about win/loss. “Sometimes we lose sight of the benefits because we focus on what we can put in our trophy case,” says Wagstaff.
- Let players know what’s out there for them. Wagstaff will tell graduating high-school seniors about the USTA’s Tennis on Campus program to keep them in the game.
- Remember that tennis is more than a game with a score. Wagstaff runs intramural leagues on his own time to keep kids playing, hosts barbeques when other teams come to play, and even plays in tournaments with kids if they can’t find a partner their own age.
See all articles by Mary Helen Sprecher
About the Author
Mary Helen Sprecher is the managing editor of Sports Destinations Management Magazine, a niche business-to-business publication for planners of sports travel events, in addition to being an RSI Contributing Editor. She is the technical writer for the American Sports Builders Association and works as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore City.