Bishop gives it college try Ex-Doves coach lends experienced hand as N.C. State assistant

January 15, 1998|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow knew exactly what type of individual she was seeking to round out her coaching staff for this season.

She wanted someone a bit older, with an abundance of wisdom and experience. Someone who had spent many years molding young girls into exceptional people as well as outstanding basketball players.

Someone like longtime Western High coach Breezy Bishop, who had crossed paths with Yow at an Amateur Athletic Union tournament this past summer.

"When I saw her there, the thought immediately hit me that she fit exactly what I had in mind," Yow said.

So, at the age of 62, Bishop has embarked on a new phase in her career -- that of a first-year assistant coach.

"Most people only have one career, but God has truly blessed me, and I'm grateful," said Bishop, who will be on the N.C. State bench tonight at Cole Field House when the 10th-ranked Wolfpack meets Maryland. "The opportunity to work with Kay Yow, who has a great basketball mind, is awesome."

Bishop's decision to leave Western after 24 seasons to become an assistant at N.C. State shocked many in the local girls basketball community, especially since she contemplated retirement a few years ago. But the challenge of a new job seems to have rejuvenated her.

"I'm not ready to retire," said Bishop, who left Western once before to serve as coach at Towson State from 1979 to 1983. "Mentally and physically, I'm peaking. This is the best time in my life. Why shouldn't I work?"

Raleigh's gain, however, is Baltimore's loss.

Bishop built Western into a national power, compiling a 411-39 record and winning two state championships and 15 Baltimore City titles in two stints at the school (1969-79, 1983-97). She also helped to increase exposure to area girls basketball through her involvement with The Greater Baltimore Women's Basketball organization.

But more than anything, Bishop prided herself on her ability to help generations of girls receive academic or athletic scholarships to college by instilling the proper dedication and work ethic.

Bishop's motivational skills are among the reasons she is such a valuable asset at N.C. State.

"I feel as though I'm a trouble-shooter," Bishop said. "Sometimes seniors have a tendency not to be totally focused and there are other players that may not have the mental toughness. I've taken these players under my wing to try to get them focused."

Bishop's main responsibility is to scout the opposition's offense and to help in designing a defense to counter it.

As a restricted coach, Bishop's duties do not include scouting high school players and recruiting, which is what distinguished the position at N.C. State from other college offers she had rejected over the years.

The only drawback to Bishop's new job is that she gets homesick. Since the season began, Bishop has returned to her home in Finksburg just once -- for three days during Christmas week.

"I miss the Western students, my friends and loved ones, my church and my three cats," she said.

Bishop, however, is constantly reminded of how many lives she has touched.

Since leaving for N.C. State, Bishop has received numerous phone calls and letters from former players and parents of players wishing her well. And occasionally at road games, an ex-player living in that area will make an unexpected visit.

Bertina Silver, the president of the Western Parents Association and mother of Doves senior Tiffany Silver, regularly calls Bishop to keep her informed of the Doves' progress this season.

"I hope the Doves make it to the state semifinals," Bishop said. "Spending all those years at a great institution like Western helped to prepare me for this second career."

Pub Date: 1/15/98

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