After coaching volleyball for 40 years, Bill Root has decided to call it a career.
Root, who has been at both Giltner and Grand Island Senior High, announced Tuesday that he will retire from coaching.
Root, who will continue to teach physical education at Howard Elementary School, finished with 712 career victories between his time with the Islanders and Hornets.
“I appreciate Grand Island Senior High for letting me coach for as long as I did, and the same with Giltner,” Root said.
Root has had quite a career coaching. During his time at Giltner, he guided the Hornets to nine trips to the state tournament with four state championships and two state runner-up finishes.
His success continued at Senior High for the past 20 years including guiding the Islanders to the state tournament eight times (starting with his first year) and finishing as the Class A runner-up in 2006 and ‘07.
He has received the Independent girls coach of the year honor twice in 1985 and 1999 and well as the Nebraska Coaches Association’s Phyllis Rice Honnor Volleyball Award in 2011.
His 712 victories is 12th all-time in wins in state history.
“Coach Root has been a tremendous asset for Grand Island Senior High,” activities director Cindy Wells said in a press release. “He has dedicated so much of his life to our student athletes in his time here. We thank him for his years of service to Islander athletics.”
Root has coached many athletes who would go on to play college volleyball, including his daughter Brigette, who played at Nebraska.
One of the highlights for Root was coaching Brigette. One of his favorite memories was in 2007 when Grand Island Senior High reached the Class A final after graduating a strong senior class the year before that reached the state title match. The Islanders played 15 sets in less then 24 hours at the state tournament before finishing second to Papillion-La Vista.
“We lost a great senior class who has just played in the state finals the year before,” Root said. “That team, which included Brigette, came back and reached the state tournament again, then played three tough five-set matches and lost 19-17 in the fifth set.”
Even though the Islanders finished 3-25 this past season, Root said he still enjoyed coaching this group.
“We had great seniors who were so good with the younger players,” he said. “They were great leaders and did anything I asked them to do.”
And he knows his success over the years would not be possible without the support from so many people.
“Larry Babcock hired me as the K-12 PE teacher at Giltner and told me at the end of the interview that I was going to be the volleyball coach,” Root said. “I was fortunate to have very good kids in the program at Giltner so I can make a lot of mistakes and still win. I got better each year I think. I would like to thank him, as well as coach Terry Pettit, who was my mentor and helped at camps, and coach John Cook. They were big influences on me.
“I would like to thank Jeff Johnson, Joe Kutlas, Cindy Wells and Kent Mann as well as all my assistants, especially Kelley Ward, who’s been with me for 20 years. And last, my family, especially Brenda for going through every season. I’ve been blessed.”
Wells said in the press release that the search for the next volleyball coach will begin immediately.