NSCAA honors assistant coach for BHS boys’ soccer team
BLACKSBURG — Over the past year, Blacksburg has been dubbed with numerous honors and titles for all the town has to offer its residents.
From Homes.com’s “Best Place to Raise a Family” to being named to Livability.com’s “Top 10 College Towns 2012” list — the town has become used to the praise.
Now it’s time for Blacksburg to add another accolade to the list.
Just this month, Blacksburg High School assistant coach and longtime New River Valley resident Travis Bishop was named the 2012 East Region High School Boys Soccer Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
In September, Blacksburg head coach Shelley Blumenthal submitted a nomination letter to the NSCAA’s selection committee praising Bishop for the work he’s done for Blacksburg’s soccer program.
“Travis has been an integral part of the Blacksburg High School Boys Soccer Program, is a major part of our success, contributes significantly to the soccer community in our region and is an exemplary role model for our young men,” Blumenthal wrote in the letter.
During Bishop’s 12 years of coaching at Blacksburg, the team has compiled an impressive 254-17-5 record. In that span, the Bruins have captured seven state championship titles, 10 regional championships, 12 district championships and two state runner-up titles.
But Bishop’s dedication to Blacksburg High began before his return to the school in 1997.
Bishop was the Bruins’ goalkeeper during his senior season — and Blumenthal’s first year as the team’s head coach — in 1992 when he earned second-team All-State honors.
His career would continue into the collegiate realm when he attended Ferrum College before transferring to Bluefield College for his sophomore season, where Bishop suffered a wrist injury that would ultimately end his soccer career.
Bishop got a taste of the coaching world at Graham High School in Bluefield and later at Bluefield and Roanoke colleges. He returned to Blacksburg to become an assistant coach for the school’s junior varsity team during the 1997 season. He was then moved to assistant coach for the varsity team for the 1998 season — the first season the team would capture the AA state championship title with Bishop.
During the 1998-2000 seasons, the school won three-straight state championships and even had a winning streak of 66 through those three seasons. Bishop had to step down from his position as assistant coach due to a change in residence prior to the 2001 season, but he would soon return.
He arrived back on the sidelines of Blacksburg High in 2005, and coincidentally, the team won its final 18 matches of the season and captured yet another state championship title. The team was a state runner-up in 2006 and won another state championship in 2007.
In 2008, Blumenthal left the program to take a position at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School in Roanoke, and Bishop was promoted to co-head coach. The team was ranked first in the country for most of the season by ESPN, Bishop said, however, they didn’t win a state title that season.
But a return to the top followed during the 2009-10 seasons as the Bruins won back-to-back state championship games. In 2011, the team was a state runner-up, and in 2012, a state semifinalist.
In addition to their victories on the field, the team has received the Virginia High School League’s Wachovia Sportsmanship Award three times during Bishop’s tenure.
But Bishop’s leadership stretches far beyond the lines of a soccer field.
He’s a father of two young girls named Emily and Erin and a sales manager at High Peak Sportswear in Blacksburg.
Through his experiences, Bishop said he’s become a vocal leader and has placed an emphasis on family and friendships in his own life and for the team.
“We take a lot of pride saying our program is like a family,” Bishop said. “Once you’re in the family, just because you graduate or whatever, doesn’t mean you have left the family. It is lifelong friendships.”
Blumenthal said Bishop is able to balance his family life and work life while maintaining a great commitment to the soccer program.
Beyond soccer, Bishop always has the best interest of the students individually as well as the collective team, Blumenthal added.
Bruins players see that same sense of family year-in and year-out.
Senior defender Mitchell Williams said he was happy when he heard Bishop had won the award.
“He is always very supportive even when things aren’t going well,” Williams said. “I think that he really cares about the guys on the team.”
Rather than place an emphasis on winning, although he likes to win, Bishop emphasizes each student-athlete he coaches.
“It’s great watching the players develop as they make their way through the program,” Bishop said. “It is with great satisfaction to see them grow not only as soccer players, but as young men.”
He’s also been developing young men and women outside the Blacksburg soccer program throughout the years with his Hands-On Goalkeeping School. He has run the program for the past 18 years and has helped produce many collegiate student-athletes.
Bishop was one of four assistant coaches recognized across the country representing each of their four respective regions. He has been invited to attend the High School Breakfast in Indianapolis, Ind., in January as a guest of the NSCAA.
At the convention in Indianapolis, one of the four regional winners will be crowned with the National Award for Assistant Coach of the Year.
Although Bishop’s name is the only one seen on his regional honor, he attributes his success to many of the friends and family members who have had a part in shaping the person and coach he is today.
“It is a team award of how hard our kids have worked, not only for this year but in years past as well,” Bishop said.
“Of course, I’d love to win it, but there are so many excellent coaches out there.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
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