To whom it may concern:
I am incredibly disheartened to hear of the plan to fire Girls Basketball coach Samantha Bihl. Coach Bihl has always rewarded hard work, and she goes above and beyond to ensure her players become better athletes and young women. I played for Coach Bihl from 2016-2020. My freshman year, Coach Bihl’s first year, our team was lucky to finish .500 on the season. The following three years, Coach Bihl led our team to two 20+ win seasons, three sectional championships, a league championship, and the school’s first district championship since 1991. Coach Bihl also rightfully received District Coach of the Year honors. Do not allow recency bias to cloud your judgement of Coach Bihl’s successful coaching career thus far.
As if the winning statistics and championships from Coach Bihl’s coaching stint are not enough, her outstanding character is all the more reason that it is extremely disappointing that our athletic department would force her out of a coaching position. While success is often measured by wins and losses, the end goal of high school sports should be to teach athletes life lessons—the wins are a bonus. In my four years in the Lady Lions Basketball program under Coach Bihl, I learned more about life than I could have imagined. Though the list could go on and on, my experience playing in the LLB program can be summed up by three words: accountability, hard work, and friendship.
Accountability could not be more important when it comes to being successful in life. Firing Coach Bihl shows that the school district has no desire to make positive change and will continue lax efforts towards ensuring students’ success after high school. Many students lack authority figures that care enough to teach them the importance of accountability; Coach Bihl was this person for many. My teammates may not have realized it at the time, but she did not make us do board pushes for missed box outs or run laps for being late for practice as a punishment—she was simply holding us accountable. Coach Bihl always set goals for us, whether it be in a game or in drills in practice. If we failed to meet a goal we were capable of achieving, we would condition—she held us accountable. High school athletes don’t always respond well to this methodology, as it seems too hard and “punishments” are seen as taboo, but accountability could not be more important when it comes to being successful in life. Accountability is something Coach Bihl taught extremely well, and it is a shame that her athletes, parents, and administration may fail to see that.
With accountability comes hard work, and with hard work often comes success. Coach Bihl has always been one to encourage and reward hard work. Basketball was easily the most demanding of the three sports I played in high school, but I realize now that we wouldn’t have been half as successful as we were if it weren’t for all the early mornings or long nights we spent in the gym, lifting, or watching film. As athletes, we learned how important it is to dedicate time and effort to achieving an end goal; Coach Bihl served as our role model by putting even more time and effort into pushing us to be successful. Coach Bihl pushed us to work hard even on our bad days, but our hard work never went unnoticed. Aside from all the wins, our hard work was rewarded with new gear, team meals, and even team trips to Disney and Arizona. We worked hard because Coach Bihl worked so hard to do everything she could for us. We were successful because of our hard work, Coach Bihl’s included. Playing for Coach Bihl, I learned that nothing is ever handed to you, and that success requires hard work from everyone involved.
In addition to the life lessons I learned, friendship is one of my biggest takeaways from my experience in LLB. My best friends from high school are the girls I played basketball with. Being on a team with girls is one thing, but being friends with everyone on a team is something very special. I was always close to these girls, but some of my favorite memories with them are because of Coach Bihl. I’ll never forget our trips to Arizona or Disney, countless overnight trips across Ohio to play in shootouts at different colleges, Christmas parties, and even nights spent just eating dinner and watching film. Coach Bihl always went above and beyond to give us chances outside of the gym to make memories with each other. It’s so special to be able to reminisce with all my friends about all the memories we were able to make because of basketball and Coach Bihl. Now that I am no longer playing, Sam and I have maintained a friendship. Whenever I’m home from college, we go to dinner or get coffee and spend time catching up. She truly cares about her athletes and serves as a friend and role model to each of them. I could not be more thankful for the friendships basketball and Coach Bihl gave me; all who were a part of LLB are truly forever family.
I could not imagine how wildly different my high school experience would be without Coach Bihl, and it is heartbreaking that athletes will not have the opportunity to learn from and form a relationship with her as I did. Coach Bihl is extremely successful, and she embodies accountability, hard work, and friendship. The decision to fire her reflects extremely poorly on the school district and shows where the values of the athletic department lie. The actions taken towards Coach Bihl are blatantly disrespectful and ignorant of all the good she has done for students, athletes, and the athletic department of Washington City Schools. Quite honestly, blame should be placed on anyone but Coach Bihl, and the athletic department should spend time reflecting on the culture it has created. I know my words will likely be disregarded, but I could not in good conscience allow this rash decision to be made without me sharing my experience on her behalf.