Scott Bilton steps down as West Forsyth girls soccer coach

Published 1:49 pm Thursday, June 15, 2023

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By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
Scott Bilton, who is the face of West Forsyth girls soccer, has announced that he has resigned as head coach following this, his 16th season.
West Forsyth finished this past season with an overall record of 19-4-1 and 13-1 in the Central Piedmont 4-A, ending its season on May 18 with a 2-0 loss against South Mecklenburg in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs. Bilton finished with a record of 260-58-21 overall, and from 2011-18, West Forsyth won 94 straight conference games. Bilton also helped lead West Forsyth to the NCHSAA Class 4-A championship in 2017 after defeating Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons 4-3 in overtime. He previously was the boys soccer coach at West Forsyth, resigning from that post in 2014 with a record of 99-48-20.
In addition to stepping down as the girls soccer coach, has also resigned as the assistant athletic director.
“It was something that was on my mind for a long time,” said Bilton, who is 46 years old. “But once the playoff game happened I really just sort of took a day or two. One of the things I always do after my season, that I go watch another team play after me. So, I went and watched the (Charlotte) Ardrey Kell-(Cornelius) Hough game (in the quarterfinals of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs on May 25). And it’s very therapeutic for me to just to say, ‘OK, yep, it’s done.'”
That wasn’t the first time he had contemplated resigning.
“I knew that I was thinking about resigning at that point,” Bilton said. “But I wasn’t sure, and I went with one of my best friends, who actually lives down in the Charlotte area now, and we’ve gone to games together for years. And he’s just a good personal friend. And he knew that I was thinking about it. So, we drove, it was about 30, 40 minutes to Ardrey Kell from his house. And we drove and talked about it, and ate together, and just kind of thought and said, ‘Yeah, this is it.'”

At that point, Bilton said, he reached out to Rhonda Powell, who is an assistant principal at West Forsyth.
“Rhonda, as always, as brilliant as she is, told me, ‘Alright, take. few days, think about it, and make sure.’ And I did,” he said. “The problem that it ran into then was, ‘OK, when can I tell my team?’ Because I didn’t want it to be a text, or a remind, or anything like that. I wanted to be face-to-face with as many of them as I could.”
Bilton said he spoke to Principal Kevin Spainhour and they decided to wait until this past Monday to meet with the team.
“We said let’s hold any announcement until Monday when I could legally meet with the girls,” Bilton said. “And so, I met with them on Monday because that was the first day of workouts. or open-field. So, I met with them, and at the end of the open-field, well at the beginning of open-field, we talked about best memories. We had a few alumni out there, and so the best memories, we were talking about, what did they miss?
“And we ended the time together with me telling them my best memories were 16 years that I got to be on the sideline with them, and my worst thing is that it’s over. And just told them, after a lot of thoughts and prayers, it was the right thing to do at the right time. And so, I went ahead and told them, and where’s we are.”
The decision, according to Bilton, was based on wanting to spend more time with his family — wife, Laura, and daughters, Hailey, 12, Emily, 10, and Sydney, 8.
“He’s done a great job as a coach,” Athletic Director Mike Pennington of West Forsyth said. “He’s very valuable as an assistant athletic director, and also, he’s an excellent teacher. But he’s got (three) little girls that are wanting Daddys time and Daddy wants to give them time. So, I completely understand. And it’s a decision that should be made. Family should come first.”
It was especially hard for Bilton to make the decision after seeing his three daughters grow up with the players for the Titans.
“About halfway through the season, a couple of times I would miss a game, or often I would miss practices for my kids,” Bilton said. “And my daughters just kind of, not being mean or judgmental at all, they just kind of said like, ‘I hate that you’re missing this.’ And it added up in my mind. All of those things considered it just made me say, ‘Yep, it’s time.'”
As of right now, Bilton plans on staying at West Forsyth as a teacher. This past school year, he was a geography and humanities teacher. This coming school year, he’s slated to be an American history and humanities teacher.
“One of the reasons why I stepped away was just the changes in education, and the changes in kids,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say is that, you know, with me being a little bit older I just don’t know if I was the best option because I don’t know if I could relate to the kids the same way as I used to be able to.”
Pennington said the position for head girls soccer coach has been posted. He would prefer the new coach be a teacher, but would consider a community coach, if necessary.
“They’re there on campus, communication with the kids is easier, communication with us is easier.” Pennington said. “Scott’s in the building behind me, so it probably took me a minute and a half to walk to (room) 704 or whatever he is.”
With the success of Bilton and the girls soccer program, no matter who Spainhour and Pennington choose to hire, it won’t be easy to step into Bilton’s shoes. Pennington added that they would like to have a new coach in place by early July.
“We’ve had to do it quite a bit,” Pennington said. “Brittany Cox (former girls basketball coach, won the 2018-19 NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship, replaced by Catrina Green) was a great coach. Adrian Snow (former football coach, replaced by Kevin Wallace). I don’t want to slight anybody, but we have (had to replace successful coaches). And I think that’s the great thing about West Forsyth is we’ll get some good coaches that apply. You hate to see them leave.”
One of Bilton’s fondest memories was winning the NCHSAA Class 4-A state championship in 2017. Riley Terry, who was a sophomore at the time, had a 34-40-yard free kick in the second overtime against Cardinal Gibbons at went in to give West Forsyth a 4-3 lead. Because the first set of two 10-minute overtimes isn’t sudden death, Bilton and the rest of the Titans had to nervously wait out the final 41/2 minutes of the game.
“I remember the free kick coming up, and it was near us,” Bilton said. “And we had a signal, in that when we said ‘green,’ green meant to go to goal. And I said green, and (Terry) kind of looked at me, like, ‘What?’
“Because I think she was a little bit worried about how far away it was. But at that point, adrenaline is flowing. I know she’s going to get it there. And we had talked about what we wanted to do. If we put a ball towards the goal on a longer free kick, we always wanted to have somebody what we called flash, which was to go right in front of the keeper and jump. And I couldn’t care if it went a foot over their head. It was to take the eyes of the keeper off the ball.”
Terry was named MVP, but the game wasn’t over. Bilton put in defensive specialist Cami Belin to fend off Cardinal Gibbons for the rest of overtime.
“Our girls, they held it together,” BIlton said.
The Titans finished their championship season with a record of 26-1-1 and 12-0 in the Central Piedmont 4-A.
“There’s no substitute for winning the state championship,” Pennington said. “It is so hard to do. I can remember being there and the team they played was so good. And it was just awesome. We had a great run and hopefully we’ll have another one. You can look through the state of North Carolina, there aren’t many schools that can win state championships. And that will be a good drawing card for us is whoever comes in knows that, ‘Hey, this place is, if you’re capable of winning one, you’re capable of winning another one.”
West Forsyth had most of its players back for the 2018 season, but the team had some injuries, never really made a championship run and finished 17-4 overall and 8-2 in the conference, losing to Reagan twice. Despite having many players back from the championship team, its team leader, Elizabeth Neblett graduated right after the championship and played collegiately at Appalachian State.
“Elizabeth Neblett is the best leader and captain I have ever had,” Bilton said. “And, you know, she made that her mantra, for lack of a better word. She made that her mantra that no, we’re going to win this thing.”
Also, in 2019, West Forsyth was 23-0 and 10-0 in the conference. It played host to Southern Pines Pinecrest in the NCHSAA Class 4-A Western Regional championship. West Forsyth was leading 1-0, but Pinecrest came back to win 2-1, ending any hopes of West Forsyth going undefeated and winning the state championship.
“We were undefeated and rolling,” Bilton said. “You know, 2019, I mean that team, man, and to be fair, that team was probably not as talented as the previous two years, but they just, they got it done. And, you know, that was those groups of sophomores that were seniors, you know, sophomores from the state championship, and they were really resolved to make it back to what we had.”
The Titans just came up short.
“I think they did a phenomenal job,” Bilton said. “Heck, we were close to top-10 in the nation that year, and just lost one game. You know, it kind of stinks that we had a chance to put the game away and didn’t. And they figured out how to score some goals, and we couldn’t seal the deal.”
In BIlton’s 16 years as head coach for the girls, they won 11 conference championships, and Bilton also won four conference championships as the boys coach. He was named conference coach of the year 10 times with the girls and six times with the boys. He was the girls regional coach of the year nine times and five times with the boys. He was named state girls soccer coach of the year in 2016 and 2017.
Not only that, Bilton’s had supreme talent on the field. Alison Price, who graduated from West Forsyth in 2014 and played in college at Louisville, had the previous school record for goals with 114, and she also had 60 assists. However, Brooklyn Berry, who graduated in 2018, broke the record and finished 149 goals, and she added 48 assists.
“I’m going to really miss it,” Bilton said. “I won’t know the full feeling until, this will make sense, I was talking to Coach Snow about it, and he said it will be a different feeling for him that opening week in the fall. And I think I’ll feel the same way. You know, he said that he’s probably going to make plans to be away (Aug. 18 at home against Asheville Reynolds in the season opener in football) that week. It’s an abundance of emotions.
“…It’ll definitely be emotional, you know, because I’m going to miss being out there. I’m going to miss seeing those kids. I’m going to miss the competition. But what I’m not going to miss is my kids.”