When Bruce Betts’ Staples boys volleyball team fell in the state finals last year, it was their 1st loss in 101 matches.
The defeat also snapped the Wreckers’ 4-year streak as Connecticut champions.
Betts told his team yesterday he will not be coaching this spring. But his surprise announcement does not mean he leaves as a loser.
Quite the contrary. Since founding the Staples boys volleyball program in 1987, the only coach the team ever had has epitomized not just success, but excellence.
Since 1992 — the 1st time the FCIAC ran a boys volleyball tournament — the Wreckers have won 11 league championship. Including last spring, they’ve captured 8 straight.
Eight times since 2001, they’ve been state champs.
And there was that remarkable 101-match streak.
“I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while,” Betts said this morning. “I went back and forth on it. But when I realized I could no longer make the same commitment I ask the players to make every day of every season, I knew it would be unfair to the players or myself to keep going.”
The hardest part, Betts said, was telling the returning athletes. “They’re not only great volleyball players. They’re also great individuals. They’re a very fun group to be with.”
But, he noted, “this is the right time for me. It’s the right choice. There’s no second guessing.”
It’s the 2nd “stepping down” for Betts in a year. Last fall, for the 1st time in 25 years, he did not coach the girls team. They too were perennial contenders.
Betts bleeds Wrecker blue. A Staples graduate from the Class of 1965, he is in his 39th year of teaching physical education in Westport. His career has spanned Hillspoint Elementary School, Long Lots Junior High and now Staples. He will continue to teach.
If you’re doing the math: Yes, Betts is 63 years old. And yes, he is the most youthful 63-year-old on the planet.
“I’ll be watching a lot of volleyball this spring,” he promised his team yesterday. “That’s very exciting for me.”
The job will posted — and, no doubt, filled soon. After all, the boys volleyball season is just around the corner.
The 1st one in Staples history without Bruce Betts.