Thursday, February 22, 2018

Bill Detrick remembered: legendary coach passes at 87

PETER PRENDERGAST ’16

SPORTS EDITOR

The Trinity community mourns the loss of long time coach and mentor Bill Detrick, who passed away last week at the age of 87.  He is survived by his wife Barbara, as well as his three children and his six grandchildren.

Detrick attended Central Connecticut State University where he played football, basketball and baseball.  He remains the only athlete in the school’s history to earn twelve varsity letters.  He graduated in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in business education.  He later went on to earn a masters degree in guidance from New York University.

After college and a 16-month stint in the navy, Detrick returned to Central where he coached the men’s basketball team for 29 years, setting yet another school record for amassing 468 victories with the Blue Devils.  Fans of CCSU basketball remember Detrick as a passionate, caring, funny and somewhat eccentric coach and leader.  Detrick has been honored by the university as his No.4 jersey was retired, he was inducted into the school’s inaugural hall of fame class and the gymnasium where he spent so much of his playing and coaching career, has been renamed after him.

After leaving Central Connecticut, he joined the Trinity College Athletic staff in 1990 as the head coach for the golf program.  During his twenty-three years as head coach, he successfully turned Bantam golf into one of the most successful Division III programs in the Northeast.

He led Trinity golf to seven New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship appearances, as well as their first league title in 2010.  He was named NESCAC golf coach of the year three times during his tenure and in his final season at the helm of the program, steered the team to a second place finish in the conference championship.  Since his retirement, Trinity has renamed its annual fall golf tournament the Bill Detrick Invitational, to honor his legendary career.

Detrick left Trinity as a personal mentor to many of his players and students.  John Shilling ’14 golfed for him for three years at Trinity and remembers him as a caring, kind and respectful man. “He [Detrick] showed me that I always have a place to turn when things stopped going my way.” Shilling explained.  “Most importantly though, he taught us how to treat others.  Whether it’s our teammates, coaches, opponents or family members that come to the matches, we were to treat them with respect and kindness.  That’s how coach treated everyone.”

Current Trinity student, Donny Hunt ’15, recalled the first time he met Bill Detrick.  “I first met coach in an interview at Ferris when I was still a senior in high school.  After talking with him for a little over an hour I realized that I would do anything to play golf at Trinity.” Hunt explained.  “His top concern was always developing kids into men by the time they graduated and guiding them through college to make sure they would leave as a better person than when they first stepped onto campus as freshmen.  He was an incredibly loyal person who would always give help or guidance to those who sought it. “

Bill Detrick’s wake was held last Monday.  Schilling and Hunt attended the ceremony as well as countless others from the Trinity Community.  “Most wakes I have been to have been somber, uncomfortable and generally sad affairs.” Schilling admitted.  “Coach Detrick’s wake was different.  You could see people smiling as they recalled the numerous stories they had about him.  I laughed with my fellow players as we remembered the best times we had playing under coach.”

“It was inspiring to see that amount of support from all the people who wanted to see him for the last time.” Hunt remembered.  “It was an honor to explain to people at the wake that I was a part of his last team.”

Bill Detrick remains one of the most influential names in both Central Connecticut and Trinity athletics history.  His legacy as a player, coach, mentor and friend will live on in the hearts of the hundreds of people he touched and supported.

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