The 2000 Willard High School graduate and lifelong Willard resident was named head basketball coach Friday morning at his alma mater in front of his new players.
“I know this community is passionate about basketball,” Bedingfield said. “I am passionate about basketball. ... My heart belonged to Willard.”
Bedingfield played for Greg Nossaman at Willard (along with former Cleveland Browns quarterback Charlie Frye). He has spent the last 14 years coaching — four at South Central, three at Willard (as an assistant for Nossaman), three at Seneca East (varsity) and the last four years back at South Central as seventh- and eighth-grade coach.
Bedingfield said he will teach at Willard at the junior high level next year and that will be key.
“I want to build relationships with the kids on and off the floor,” he said. “I wasn’t able to do that at Seneca East.”
Bedingfield knows expectations are high with the Willard basketball program.
“I know it will be a challenge,” he said. “I know Willard kids are up to the challenge. I’m not coming with promises other than we will be well coached and well disciplined. We’re proud of that (coach Bob Haas) era, but we are looking forward to the new league. We will work and play even harder. You’ve got to prove it on the floor. You’ve got to walk the walk and talk the talk.”
The Flashes will join the new, larger version of the Sandusky Bay Conference next year and play in the Bay Division for basketball with Huron, Port Clinton, Vermilion, Edison, Margaretta and Oak Harbor.
“This isn’t a rebuilding year,” Willard City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ritz told the players. “We are winning this year. That is our expectation. Work ethic. One team. We’re proud of you guys.”
“We’ve got a guy here I believe in,” Principal Chris Schaaf said. “He going to treat you right. He will expect you to play hard.”
Assisting Bedingfield will be former Flashes head coach Dave Hershey. The rest of the staff has not been decided, Bedingfield said.
“Where others may see flaws I see the potential,” said Hershey, who coached the Flashes from 2008-09 to 20012-13. “You’ve got to do what we ask you to do.”
“Coach Hershey adds a lot to the opportunity,” Bedingfield said.
Bedington is married to the former Alanna Buurma, also a 2000 WHS graduate. The couple have four children — three girls: Reese, 9, Ryann, 5 and Jade, 3; and one boy, 7-year-old J.J.
Bedingfield will receive his master’s degree this week.
“It’s perfect timing with a new league, new opportunity and a chance to come home,” he said.