Chesterfield, Va. – Three years ago, Dave Bedwell was celebrating his third straight state 5A football title with his Skyhawks, and it would have been the storybook ending to walk away from coaching on top of the mountain.
“My wife wanted me to step down then” Bedwell said. “But I didn’t want to leave those kids at then. It just wasn’t the right time.”
Now is the right time, mostly because Steve D’Adamo is moving on from the AD position at Bird that he has held for the last two years. Bedwell has always wanted to expand his experience with the kids at Bird and this gives him just such an opportunity.
“The opportunity to be here at Bird, and be in this position at Bird, was the ultimate goal” Bedwell said. “I didn’t want to leave Bird. I love Bird high school. To have the position open here was the magical thing.”
Bedwell leaves a legacy that will be difficult to match, let alone surpass with the Skyhawks. In 17 years, his teams went 180-30, made the playoffs each year except one, and won those three straight state titles. At one point, from the beginning of the 2012 season to the 5th game of the 2014 season, Bedwell's teams won 33 straight games, a mark not seen in Central Virginia in over a half century.
Bedwell replaced Ron Paquette who went 72-19 at Bird in 8 seasons without expanded playoffs. Bedwell has moved the expectations of the Skyhawk program even further, creating even bigger shoes to fill than the ones he inherited, and he will have the primary say in who his replacement will be.
"When Dave took over, they had been a consistent winner, challenging for regional and state championships" said Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker. "The person that takes that job now is going to be someone who won't shy away from that pressure."
"You have everything you need to be successful here" said Bedwell. "We want someone who understands the tradition of being at Bird high school. It's not just sports. It's being in the building and being part of the Skyhawk family.
One of Bedwell's first objectives will be to create that sense of family throughout all sports, not just football. The boys basketball team is coming off their first state title and several other teams are routinely competing for their conference and regional titles.
Another challenge will come on the first Friday night of football this fall. Bedwell has spent the better part of the last 25 years on a sideline, coaching in one capacity or another. His final game was a loss to last year's eventual state champion, Highland Springs. Most coaches do not get to finish their careers going out on top, and while Bedwell stopped short of saying he has coached his last game, he is content with his career if that is the case.
"When you look at everything that we have accomplished as a coaching staff, it's pretty fulfilling" Bedwell said. "We want to win as many as we can but at the same time, I'm very happy with what we've accomplished here."