Girls' basketball: Wingett makes decision to step away from coaching basketball, for now

April 2, 2014 Updated: April 2, 2014 at 9:58 pm
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Air Academy coach Bob Wingett Wednesday, March 7, 2012, at the Coors Event Center in Boulder. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

For nearly half of his life, Bob Wingett has held the title of high school basketball head coach. He called the shots, pleaded with the officials, corrected mistakes and taught the game.

And when he sat down, he occupied the first chair on the bench, the one closest to the action.

After enduring what he called a "medical scare" early last season, Wingett, 42, took a step back from the rigors of the profession of girls' head coach while longtime friends and former junior varsity coaches Phil Roiko and Craig Beal took the reins at Air Academy.

Moving to the last seat on the bench, Wingett took in the game from a different angle, also trying to comprehend his place in life, not just on the basketball court.

So Wingett tendered his resignation Wednesday from a program he led to a 4A girls' state title in 2012, walking away after four seasons filled with challenges, triumphs then a complete rebuilding effort that should have the Kadets knocking on the door again soon.

"I think every coach knows when it's time to move on," Wingett said. "I am not retiring. It's just time to move on."

While Wingett declined to dwell on the specifics of his health, he did admit to issues dealing with his short-term memory. An MRI in January came back normal, giving the coach confidence that he lacked during the last months of 2013.

"In my mind, I blew it up further until the MRI came back," Wingett said. "There were things that were in front of me that I should have known but didn't. It was more than just getting older. This was more dramatic. Now, health-wise, I feel back to normal, but I knew this would be my last year coaching, for now."

Seven years ago, Wingett relocated to Colorado Springs, where many of his wife's immediate family reside, after 35 years of living and 15 coaching in his native Southern California.

Early in the 2010-11 season, he was inserted into the head coaching role, eventually molding a team comprised of mostly juniors into a cohesive unit that advanced to the 4A semifinals.

One year later, the Kadets won it all.

Then came the fun part, where Wingett literally rebuilt a team from scratch. Still, the 2012-13 version earned a first-round bye in the 4A playoffs. In February, the Kadets beat Widefield in a first-round 4A playoff before a tough loss at Elizabeth the following weekend.

"I have so much appreciation for what Bob has done for us," Kadets athletic director Diane Shuck said. "Bob kept the program going, and he's a natural coach. He's the type coach that if he's not in it 100 percent, than he'd rather not do it. That's what I love about him. When he goes in, he goes all in. I respect his decision to step away and enjoy his wonderful family."

Wingett, who teaches in the Affective Needs programs at Air Academy that centers on students with emotional or severe learning disabilities, looks forward to remaining an assistant with the softball and baseball programs. He might return to coaching C-squad girls' basketball but has yet to make up his mind.

"Before this year, I had never been an assistant, and that was really eye opening," Wingett said. "You get a different perspective. It was really enjoyable. But I couldn't have made the transition without the parent support, and Phil and Craig did me a huge favor."

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