SOUTH BEND — Tom Betrozoff, who won nearly 450 games in a 28-year varsity coaching career, plans to retire as South Bend’s boys basketball coach.
While Betrozoff said he has yet to file a formal retirement letter, he has verbally informed South Bend School District officials of his decision.
“I didn’t feel like I had any specific reason, I just felt like it was time,” Betrozoff said Friday. “I’m still in (a coaching mode) 99 percent, but I felt like I needed to be 100 percent. That’s what I preach to the kids — 100 percent in or go home.”
The 59-year-old Betrozoff, who has worked for Bridgewater Logging since retiring as Raymond’s fire chief, said he has no immediate plans to continue as an assistant coach.
“I know I’m going to regret it, for sure,” he said. “This was a really hard decision. This is harder than deciding to retire from the fire service.”
Betrozoff logged 395 wins in 21 years as Willapa Valley’s girls basketball coach, resigning following the 2009 campaign. He accepted the South Bend’s boys job later that year and enjoyed three winning seasons there before the program experienced a downturn during the past two seasons. His career record at South Bend was 46-57.
He said the Tribe’s struggles over the past two seasons had no bearing on his decision and thanked South Bend district officials for their support.
“If I was going to continue to coach, there’s no question I’d stay where I’m at,” he said.
Betrozoff noted he has experienced nearly everything during his coaching career. He guided Willapa Valley’s girls to five successive state tournament appearances (1988-92).
Career highlights included taking the Viking girls to the 1990 state Class B title game, where they lost a heartbreaker to Asotin after beating a succession of higher-ranked teams to make it to the final, and finally getting the best of longtime nemesis Raymond in a wild overtime winner-to-state, loser-out district contest in 1992.
Betrozoff noted that he had the rare distinction of winning his first and last varsity games at each of the two Willapa Harbor schools.
He credited former Willapa Valley football coach and athletic director Bud Sanchez with recruiting him to begin his coaching career as a football assistant at Valley.
“He was my mentor,” Betrozoff said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gone into coaching,”
In a twist of fate, Sanchez’s son Tom was Betrozoff’s final direct supervisor as South Bend’s athletic director.
Betrozoff also thanked his wife, Janis, for the sacrifices she made over the course of his career.
“For 31 years, we had to plan Thanksgiving and Christmas around basketball,” Betrozoff said. “Basketball came first in our house.”