A longtime member of Christ Lutheran Church, Stevensville, Mich., Bruce Bittenbender was named “2010 National Coach of the Year” by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association at its annual awards banquet in June.
“Your outstanding coaching longevity, win-loss record, championship years, awards received and services to the coaching profession and to your athletes have earned you this national recognition,” said the association in naming him one of eight finalists in the United States representing 20 high school sports.
Rev. Philip Quardokus, senior pastor at Christ Lutheran, told Reporter that Bittenbender “is well-respected in the community, especially among the athletes he has coached through the years.”
“I was a little weak-kneed about the whole thing,” Bittenbender, wrestling coach at Lakeshore High School, Stevensville, for the past 40 years, told The Herald-Palladium newspaper. “There were a lot of guys there that could’ve won it. My longevity and the fact that I stayed with it and have been successful helped me win the award.”
With a dual-meet career record of 764-181-5, his teams have won eight regional titles, and 21 district and 26 conference championships, along with 78 individual state placers and 20 state champions. Last December, he set Michigan’s record for coaching victories with 735.
Bittenbender has retired from teaching at Lakeshore but plans to return as coach for the 2010-11 season. “We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “There’ll be more time to focus on coaching.”
Posted June 7, 2010