Sunday Conversation: Longtime Bridger volleyball coach Wayne Moorman recounts career

BOZEMAN — Wayne Moorman is one of the winningest volleyball coaches in Montana high school history.

After taking the bench at Bridger High School in 1985, Moorman led the the Scouts to 10 Class C state championships and more than 700 wins. He was inducted into the Montana Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004.

Moorman put the finishing touches on his illustrious career last weekend at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in Bozeman. His Scouts battled back from a first-round loss to claim a second-place finish, sending the legendary coach out with yet another trophy.

Moorman sat down with MTN Sports to discuss his career for this week’s Sunday Conversation.

MTN Sports: What’s it been like coaching this year’s Bridger Scouts?

Wayne Moorman: “They’ve been a fun group. I have to acknowledge that it’s been an enjoyment most of the time. I can’t really look back and say it’s been a disaster, but most of the girls that you work with make it pleasant, fun, and they treat me like I’m a king, so it’s been a good year.”

MTN Sports: They treat you like a king. You’ve been doing this since 1985. Have you always been treated like a king, or does that come with doing it for so long?

Moorman: “Well, if you’re talking to the kids or you’re talking to parents? There’s sometimes, you’re cussed and discussed. But most of the time, I think I’ve had a pretty good run, and most people — I can’t say all people — have treated me well. I’ve been treated well by the school and the people I taught with and the kids that I’ve had. I get a lot of nice things from them, so I’ve appreciated it.”

MTN Sports: When you look at the lore of Montana volleyball and you look at some of the names out there, as far as Jeff Carroll, Iona Stookey. Wayne Moorman’s right there as far as, you’ve got the 10 state championships. What are some of the things that you take away from your time as a coach at Bridger, and what are some of the best memories?

Moorman: “Life’s in the journey, so …”

MTN Sports: Coaches don’t have a favorite player or favorite team.

Moorman: “You try to stay away from that. I’m asked: ‘Who was the best team?’ Those that were alumni come back, ‘Well, we were the best.’ ‘Oh yeah, you were the best.’ Another one, ‘We were the best.’ ‘No, we were the best.’ For that time and that day, you were the best. They’ve all been good. Something that sticks out, I might remember the first time, and I might remember my last time, too.”

MTN Sports: I have a cousin who married one of your former players. She speaks in such high regard of you. To know that you’ve had such an impact on so many young women, what’s that mean to you?

Moorman: “Grateful that I could be a help more than anything. I would hope that I would’ve been an example: a good man, one that loved the Lord and tried to present things for them that was livable.”

MTN Sports: During that time, obviously you’ve won a lot of games. How many of the wins do you remember, and how much of it is about setting that example and being a leader and helping them grow up as young women? How much more of that do you remember than just the wins that happen on the court?

Moorman: “I think I probably more of the practices in the gym. There’s been times that have been very exciting. There was a time we beat (Billings) Skyview. Skyview went on to win (the Class AA championship). … Just to be in the gym, working, laughing and having a good time with the kids has been a real joy — not so much the hooping and hollering. When you win a divisional or district, those are fun. But I think I’ve enjoyed mostly the practicing and the interaction that goes on with the kids. I’ve enjoyed that a great deal.”

MTN Sports: When you started back in the mid-1980s, did you ever think the road would be like this? That it would last this long?

Moorman: “No, really. You don’t really think of, at that time. You just live for the moment. Now that I can look back and reflect a little bit, I’m going, ‘Good grief, this has gone by kind of way too fast.’ At the same time, I realize that I look out and said, ‘Man, I’m the oldest guy in this whole gym as a coach.’ Then, too, you get to coach some of the kids’s kids. I think it’s time to move on. I almost had a (grandkid play). I’m going, ‘I’m starting on some bad generations here.’”

MTN Sports: Coach Robin Smith has been there with you 30 years.

Moorman: “He’s been there. Your success also goes with the help that you get, and Robin’s been exceedingly great help. At first when he came, he had a struggle to even hit the ball. But now, he’s just been a great, great help. I can’t emphasize that enough. Without him, I would’ve been in bad shape. What I don’t think of, he already takes care of anymore: ‘I’ll do it, I’ll do it.’ Very, very gracious, very helpful. He’s got a dry sense of humor that the kids like. He’s been with me, and I’ve really appreciated his time, his efforts. One reason we were successful is because of him.”

MTN Sports: With all of the different women that have come through your program and to be able to spend 30 years on the bench with one assistant coach, and the championships and the wins, can you comprehend or sum up what these past 33, 34 years have been like?

Moorman: “Really, no, but I can just say it’s been awful fast. It kind of all blurs together. It’s been enjoyable, is probably the best word I can think of, is that it’s been enjoyable. The kids mostly, for the most part — there’s some that might disagree — but they have treated me like I’ve been a king, which I’m not, but they’ve treated me that way, and I’ve appreciated it. And that’s one reason I probably would come back or do that, is the way I was treated. I was treated well by the people there in Bridger and by the school, the faculty and then the kids that I have. They make it pleasant, enjoyable. It doesn’t seem like a job. It’s just kind of a fun thing to do, and I’ve enjoyed that.”

MTN Sports: To be able to do this in Bridger, a small, traditional, this-is-what-Montana-is-about, that type of community, what’s it mean to you to be able to do it for so long in a community like Bridger?

Moorman: “I’ll just say I’m thankful — very thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to stick it out. Of course, I changed a little livelihood in there. I decided I’d be a rancher, but I had to support my hobby, so I went back to teaching and coaching. I had quite a few daughters involved. They were kind of instrumental for me to encourage me, ‘Dad, I need help. Would you help us?’ My answer at first, I said, ‘No, I’m too busy.’ Then I said, ‘Ok,’ and I did. I’ve enjoyed my daughters. Each had the opportunity to be a state champion and play in the finals. That has been an enjoyment to me to see your own kids. At the same time, I just enjoyed others, too.”

MTN Sports: It’s been a number of years now, maybe closing in on a decade, you did a story with KTVQ and you mentioned that maybe after retirement you’d be a Walmart greeter, so what’s next for you?

Moorman: “Well, I don’t think I’ll be a Walmart greeter. I might spend a little more time going to see our children and grandchildren and maybe working in the church a little more, being a little more faithful in that. I think Walmart’s out.”

Slim Kimmel

Slim Kimmel

Slim Kimmel is a Winnett native and has been with the MTN Sports team since 2016.
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