By Greg Gielczyk

SPRING LAKE — Two years ago, Bill Core decided to slow down just a bit.

After 30 years and more than 1,000 games as Spring Lake’s girls softball coach, Core announced his retirement.

It was about family.

Jenna, the oldest of his children, attends Hope College. Both of his sons, Jackson and Jaden, are playing basketball. Jackson is a senior on the varsity and Jaden is a freshman this year.

Each plays baseball in the spring. That means giving up coaching will allow Core to see them compete and cheer them on from the bleachers.

But, he did not give up all of his coaching duties.

Core begins his 35th year coaching boys basketball at Spring Lake, 21st as the varsity head coach. Spring Lake won the Division 2 district title last year, Core’s sixth in nine years.

Spring Lake Head Coach Bill Core


He coached the seventh grade boys for 1 year and then spent 13 years as the junior varsity coach before being hired to coach the varsity.

“I’m glad that I did that seventh grade year,” Core said, “because when I talk to my middle school coaches, I’ve been there. I’ve been through what they have.

“When I talk to my freshmen and JV coaches, I’ve been there,” he said. “It’s almost a school administrator. You’d really like that superintendent to have been in the classroom for a few years before they got into administration, so they can kind of relate what you’re going through.

“So, I kind of use that same analogy,” Core said. “That coaching at all levels I think is good for my relationship with my other coaches. But, it definitely helped to prepare me for the varsity level as well.”

Obviously, there’s a big difference coaching the seventh grade to coaching high school varsity.

“Those middle school years are pretty pure, innocent,” Core said. “You don’t have the weight room, you don’t have all the responsibilities of the year-round basketball.

“You show up for about eight weeks and your season’s over. The commitment of being a head coach, whether it be football or basketball, has really changed. It’s almost year-round now. I don’t see the end of the tunnel yet and I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to be at a great place like Spring Lake as long as I have. I’ll probably stay here as long as they’ll keep me.”

With so many two- and three-sport athletes at Spring Lake, that Core doesn’t do a lot out of the season, other than a pretty extensive summer program.

Core was a three-sport athlete himself during his high school days in Traverse City and then played football, basketball and baseball at Alma College.

“I always thought I’d be a football coach,” Core revealed. “But, I got into basketball early and have been there ever since. I think you see a lot more old basketball coaches than old football coaches.

“Here’s what I think,” he said. “I think if I’m a football coach, we have a system. I run the Wing T. We’re all going to run the Wing T. That’s what we do.

“In basketball, if you’ve got five guys over 6-6, guess what? We’re going to play zone and pound it in this year. If you’ve got nobody over 6-6, we’re going to press and run up tempo. Every year, it’s a jigsaw puzzle.”

Core is responsible to figure out where the pieces fit.

Right now, Core says the fire is still burning and having two sons in the program it’ll probably continue for a few more years.

“The ever-changing strategy, and adjusting to your personnel, keeps me fresh,” Core said.

And keeps him coming back to coach each and every year.