Isbell named Central League Coach of the Year
The plaque is sitting at home. It’s probably not going up in his office.
Vail Christian head football coach Bob Isbell wanted it to be kept hush-hush.
No such luck. At the end of Monday’s Vail Christian Awards Dinner, Saints athletics director Mike King announced it.
Your 2003 Central League Coach of the Year is Bob Isbell.
“Truthfully, it’s an honor, but, realistically, it goes, first of all to the team,” he said Tuesday. “You don’t get Coach of the Year, unless you’re surrounded by talented athletes and talented coaches. That’s the only way it happens. I really truthfully believe that it’s another honor to the team.”
There were about 200 people at Monday’s dinner who disagreed with Isbell on that point. When King made the announcement, it drew a standing ovation from the Saints’ community.
Modesty aside, Isbell truly deserves this honor, which should also go to assistants Tim Pierson, Todd Glandorf, Patrick Beaudine, Dave Sharp, Dr. Bill Bevan and Bob Armstead.
Yes, the players make the plays, but what Isbell has done with this program in the last four years cannot be overlooked.
Isbell built this program from scratch. After two winless seasons at 6-man, the Saints won their first game in 2000. In 2001, the team went 0-8, but were clearly on the uptick. Last year, the Saints were 5-3, and just missed the playoffs.
This year, the Saints simply steamrolled their way to the playoffs – a perfect 8-0 followed by a thrilling 64-52 playoff win over Genoa-Hugo. From 0-8 to 9-1 in two years. Sorry, Bob, but you deserve your plaudits.
And, Tuesday, his players were more than happy to oblige.
“Definitely tough, but that’s what good coaches are,” senior Robbie Brgoch said. “He’s always looking for the best way to win with humility, with trust, with discipleship. He’s always there, pushing you, giving you what you need when you need it.”
“Bottom line, he’s the best,” Saints quarterback P.J. Bevan said. “He motivates. He teaches. He has a great relationship with every player on the team, which is rare in coaches.”
According to senior Kyle Morris, Isbell saw 2003 coming in 2000.
“Mr. Isbell took us to the side and told us from day one and said, “This team is going to be special someday. And that’s what we’re going to be working toward.’ He’s been working hard to make us what we are today.”
Senior John McGee agrees 100 percent.
“When we came in as freshman, he was the one who really made us believe that we’d be something when we were seniors,” he said. “The entire time, he’d be more excited about it than us sometimes. He was really the one with all the experience. He made the team. It’s no secret.”
Nose guard Kyle Bruntz wouldn’t be playing football, if it weren’t for Isbell.
“He came to me at the end of freshman year, saying that I should do football. I didn’t do football freshman year,” Bruntz said. “He pretty much got me on the team. I think he really deserves this award because he comes up with everything and he does everything for this team and he’s so devoted to this team.”
According to his players, Isbell does anything and everything to prod, push and inspire his players to succeed. That includes nicknames – McGee is “Flipper” because he swims a lot and Andreas Bauer is “Bootsie,” because Bauer spent the first week of practice, wearing his work boot because he couldn’t find his cleats.
There is also the legendary “hat story.” If you watched the Saints last season, you would have noticed that Isbell had a straw hat he wore at each game. Well, the hat is no longer.
“The funniest moment was when he ripped off his hat earlier in the year when we had a bad practice and stomped it into the ground and he hasn’t worn his special hat since,” Bevan said with a laugh.
Whatever it takes.
“Bob’s given us all the drive to compete,” tight end Matt Seatvet said. “He just gave us all the encouragement we needed and everything it takes as a team to win.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.