Coach Bruce West retires again

His second retirement, Bruce West was honored earlier this month by fellow high school coaches and students.

With praise and gifts, Coach Rob Younger hugged Coach West as he left his position with the high school’s sports programs.

Coach West assisted in nearly every sport. As a teacher, he coached eight different sports. Since his retirement in 1993, Coach West has continued to work with the sports programs, taping athletes and taking care of them when they were injured.

None of his on-the-field diagnoses were ever wrong, Coach Younger said during the annual senior sports banquet. Among coaches, during sports awards desserts, Coach West is almost always among those thanked as an integral part of the program.

Coach West coached football, cross country, swimming, diving, wrestling with Norm Davis, track and golf.

He started with School District 55 in 1970 teaching P.E. and weight training. He started coaching the year after that.

After he retired, the district hired a full-time trainer, but he soon left the district. Coach West went back to work with athletes, helping with the injured. He also worked with Coach Doug Peargin in swimming.

He’ll probably keep working with Coach Peargin, despite his retirement, as long as Coach Peargin is coaching swimming.

“The kids felt more comfortable with my tape jobs since I’d been around for 150 years,” Coach West said, and because he understands injuries.

Coach West worked with any students who were hurt. It didn’t matter what sport they were in, whether they were injured in games or in practice. He filled in as was necessary to help athletes following an injury.

Coach West said he did it for the kids.

“It takes away from the coaches,” Coach West said. “They don’t have to deal with that stuff.”

Coach West didn’t have anything else to do anyway, he said.

During college, Coach West had thought about becoming a professional trainer, but he didn’t want to take that much schooling. He got started coaching when a friend called him up to coach a local team in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he was graduated from high school.

Coach West spent two years in the military service, four selling sporting goods and the rest of his working career teaching. He earned his degree at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.

Coach Davis got Coach West his job in Sweet Home. Both had known each other previously. Coach Davis went to work in Sweet Home in 1968. Coach West went to Alaska and started a football team at Kenai.

“He came up to visit us that last year, then he was in the process of taking over football, and he wanted me to come help him,” Coach West said. “I was thinking I needed more education at the time,” but there were no educational branches nearby.

He moved to Oregon where he completed his fifth year of college at Oregon State University.

Coach West is married to Jeani West. They have one adopted child; a son, Craig West; and a daughter in Virginia.

Coach West said he’ll miss coaching and being involved in sports.

“I tried to analyze what my real objective in sports was,” Coach West said. “It’s not the record. It’s just seeing kids accomplish something. I probably did some of my best coaching when I was losing.”

A background in sports is important, but “a lot of it’s psychology,” Coach West said. Most of the time, coaching is “just getting them to believe in themselves.”

Student athletes often don’t believe they are as good as they really are, Coach West said. “The biggest thing is encouragement.”

That’s the approach that makes or breaks a season and a win-loss record, Coach West said. He doesn’t recall what his win-loss records were. He does recall being associated with good athletes and being involved in at least five championship teams.

Coach West decided it was probably a good time to get out of coaching.

“I’m getting older,” he said, and he would like to visit his home town in September, a critical time for sports.

“It’s been a great trip,” Coach West said. “I enjoy working the kids that are out there doing things. If I could do just some little thing that might help them out and not hinder them, it’s all I wanted.”