Before she made her decision, Deb Bennett reflected on her 26-year coaching career, 19 of those as the Skyline girls’ basketball coach.
After claiming two state titles, winning more than 300 games and building one of the most-respected basketball programs in the state, she decided now would be as good a time as any to step down.
“It’s a big decision. As long as I can remember, the word ‘coach’ has preceded my name,” Bennett said in an interview with The Tribune. “I’m happy with what I accomplished here. It’s a good time.”
The longtime coach told her players on Monday that she would resign as the Eagles’ basketball coach to devote more time to her teaching career and serving as one of Skyline’s athletic directors.
Bennett, 58, leaves behind a legacy as one of the most successful coaches in the state, a name synonymous with girls’ high school basketball in Utah. Her career record stands at 327-110, which puts her among the top five winningest coaches in state history. She led Skyline to 19 playoff berths, 11 region championships and two state titles in — 2006 and 2008.
Thirty two of her players went on to play basketball in college.
“She’s had a great career and done a wonderful job,” fellow Skyline athletic director Steve Marlowe said. “It’s not as easy as it used to be. It’s a lot longer hours and more commitment. So Deb’s been doing it for 26 years, and she’s going to have a little more time for herself.”
The Eagles didn’t win a state title this season, but it still might have been one of Bennett’s best years as a coach. Skyline dealt with multiple transfers from the program, as well as the pregnancy of one of its top players.
Despite the challenges, the Eagles compiled a 17-7 record and made the semifinals of the state tournament. Bennett called it a special season.
“I’m really proud of the journey we took to get there,” she said. “We had a lot of inexperienced kids in there, and kind of flew under the radar. We were disappointed we lost in the semis, but the girls had those attributes you want. They had integrity. They fought through adversity.”
The school has already named 26-year-old assistant Lynette Schroeder as Bennett’s successor. Schroeder served as the team’s junior varsity coach this past season — Bennett referred to her as “my right hand.” The first-time head coach played her college basketball at Southern Virginia, where she led the team to a national title.
“I think a lot of the players were kind of stunned when I announced it - that was the hard part,” Bennett said. “But when our principal said Lynette would be the next coach, I think they looked pleased. It’s not a drastic change, and they know her and respect her.”
Bennett acknowledged it will be strange to watch the games from anywhere but the bench, adding it will probably take getting used to. But she’ll embrace it.
“I’m not getting any younger,” she said. “I’m really ready to step back and support them in another way.”
Deb Bennett’s career numbers
• 327-110 career record
• Two state titles (2006, 2008)
• 11 region titles
• Went to the playoffs every season
• Produced 32 college basketball players