In seven years serving as a head cross-country and track coach at Homer High School, Bill Steyer sure packed a lot of life into the programs and the kids he taught.
The test now will be to see how long that light burns, as he is leaving his post as Homer’s running coach.
Steyer made the move to Eugene, Oregon, recently with wife, Judy, both in pursuit of job opportunities. Bill will be taking on the head cross-country and track coaching position at an esteemed high school in Eugene, while Judy earned a position with a family health practice.
“This was something that my wife and I knew was going to happen about six months ago,” Steyer explained.
Steyer’s track record at Homer reads as such — three-time state champion with the girls cross-country team, one state title with boys cross-country and one with the girls track and field program, adding up to five total. Steyer also has coached six state runner-up teams between track and cross-country, making the number of first- and second-place teams 11 for Steyer.
But the coaching expert said he told his successors that success starts with them.
“I tell them to don’t even think about that, just forget it,” he said. “I don’t even think about that, you just do your own thing and don’t compare it to past coaching.”
Steyer is just one of a few big coaching names that will be leaving the peninsula prep scene next fall, a list that includes Soldotna hockey coach Derek Urban, swimming and diving coach Lucas Petersen and Kenai Central volleyball coach Tracie Beck.
Under Urban, the SoHi hockey program won a North Star Conference championship in 2015, and Petersen has produced several Region III swimming champions that own school records.
Beck took hold of a Kardinals volleyball squad that had trouble finding wins in the Northern Lights Conference and led them to success. Under Beck’s guidance, Kenai went 3-7 in 2015 and 4-6 last fall. Beck also received NLC co-Coach of the Year honors in 2016.
In another previously announced move at Kenai Central, Ted Riddall is taking over the football program from Davis Lowery.
Also in Homer, wrestling coach Chris Perk will step down into an assistant role next year, while former assistant Bubba Wells will take over the head spot, and Walter Love will replace Josh Fraley as the new head football coach.
Other head coaches stepping down from their position at Homer include swimming coach Will Roedl, volleyball coach Kristie Mastre, skiing coach Alan Parks and hockey coach Justin Adams.
The Seward girls soccer program will be getting a new coach not named yet, but the entrant will be replacing 2016 head coach James Wayne. Also, Jodi Kurtz will be taking over the volleyball program, making the step up as a JV coach to the varsity level to replace Jamie Fredrickson.
Steyer’s cross-country position at Homer will be filled by Annie Ridgely, a Homer runner that Steyer said will fit perfectly with the team, while assistant coaches Nikki Fazzenbakker and Heather Reichenberg will take over heading coaching duties for the track and field team.
Steyer said he is taking the step up from Homer, a school of less than 400, to the Class 6A Sheldon High in Eugene, a school of almost 1,600 kids. Steyer said he expects over 100 runners to join the cross-country team, meaning he will have his hands full.
However, he will never forget where he came from.
“Leaving Homer is bittersweet, as any coach will reveal, there’s never a good time to leave,” he said. “There’s always kids you want to continue to work with.
“The boys team is a team that with the right preparation can repeat as state champions.”
Steyer left the school on a winning note, helping the girls track team nail down an elusive state 1-2-3A title in his final appearance as coach.
“I couldn’t have left with a better feeling,” he said. “To be able to pull that off my final year was great.”