Bruce Myers can't get enough of coaching volleyball. 'Bottom line: it's teaching and being with the kids.'
Bruce Myers can't get enough of coaching volleyball. "Bottom line: it's teaching and being with the kids."

[Editor’s note: The idea behind “Alphabet Stories” is to write one noteworthy athletics-related story about each OSAA-member school. We started with Adrian HS on Sept.18. Today’s story, more three months later and the first of the new year, is about Central HS. The goal will be to write two per week. While we will be relying upon athletic directors to furnish story ideas, anyone may offer suggestions by emailing jo[email protected]]

How old school is longtime teacher and volleyball coach Bruce Myers?

“I started my [31-year] teaching career writing on a chalkboard and finished my teaching career writing on a chalkboard,” he said.

Myers took his old school style to a new school in 2019, when Central hired him to coach the Panthers.

Central athletic director Ryan O’Malley said that the 5A school located in Independence made a superb choice.

“His connection with the kids and their bond is undeniable,” he explained.

“Central has been awesome,” Myers said. “The administration and community do a great job of supporting the players. And the kids are terrific. They believe in my coaching. They want to be coached. They have bought into my style of play and expectations.”

Myers came to Central as one of the winningest high school volleyball coaches in Oregon history. Over 31 seasons in the sport, he has compiled an overall record of 553-253.

“I won so much because I had great players,” he said. “I lost so much because of coaching.”

Myers started coaching volleyball in 1982 at Douglas HS in southern Oregon, where he also taught health and PE. A self-professed “sports junkie” who himself played football, basketball and baseball in high school, Myers didn’t know much about volleyball when he was hired to coach the sport just days before the season began.

He learned quickly.

After several seasons on the Trojan bench, Myers moved on to Roseburg. He coached Roseburg for 19 seasons, “retiring” in 2012 after taking the school to the 6A championship match.

Officially retired from teaching, Myers and his wife moved north to Salem to be closer to his grandkids, “because we are THOSE grandparents,” he said.

“That means we go to dance recitals, soccer games, fourth grade basketball games, the spring play at the elementary school and babysit twice a week. I’m loving it.”

What Myers wasn’t loving, however, was retirement from coaching.

“I don’t hunt or fish and my golf game sucks,” he explained. “I needed something to do. I’ve always wanted to coach. I love being around the kids and teaching them and learning from them.”

After three seasons away from a varsity bench, Myers took the head coaching job at McNary in 2016. He moved on to West Salem, where his son is the head boys basketball coach; before settling in at Central.

”I never thought I was going to retire and step away from coaching,” said Myers, now 70. “I want to coach as long as I can.”

Myers’ first season at Central saw the Panthers improve from 6-14 in 2018 to a .500 team. Interest in the sport also picked up. He has twice as many freshmen out for volleyball as he did the year before.

After that first season, Myers received a letter from the team’s senior setter. He counts it as his best memory so far at the school. It chokes him up when he talks about it.

“I’d known her for three months and she was thanking me and telling me how lucky she was that she was on my team,” he explained. “No. I’m lucky that you were on my team.”

Myers said that Central will again be a competitive 5A team if the Panthers get to have a season this school year.

“We might be 50/50 but we may be better,” he said. “The kids are buying in and working hard.”

That level of commitment is all that matters to Myers, not wins or state championships, the latter of which has eluded him.

“The older I get the more perspective I have,” he explained. “There are more important things than the blue trophy.”

“It would have been nice to have one but all the relationships and things over the years…I just thoroughly enjoyed my time coaching the kids. The kids want to play volleyball. I want to teach volleyball. That’s what’s important.”