Bill Brest

Bill Brest is pictured along the sideline in this Herald file photo.

A week removed from the 2018 campaign’s conclusion, Mercer County lost a second head football coach. Hickory High’s Bill Brest formally tendered his resignation to Hermitage School District via letter Wednesday morning. 

“It has been a tremendous nine years leading this program to successes on and off the field; however, it is in my best interest at this time to step down,” Brest wrote in a letter addressed to Superintendent Dr. Dan Bell, the board of directors, principals Chris Gill and Diane Brest, and Athletic Director Barb Dzuricsko. “I will always be grateful to you and the Hornets for entrusting me with the football program to help all associated with the program to strive daily to reach their full potential – not only on the field of play, but in their academic, character, social, and family lives. 

“Your overwhelming support is something that I will never forget and will always cherish. ... I regret leaving this position, but look forward to what the future has in store for me. I wish nothing but success for the Hickory Hornet football program ... “ he added.

To date, Brest has devoted 32 years to coaching football. Prior to his post at the Hickory helm he served as a collegiate assistant for 12 seasons and 11 as a scholastic assistant. He was on the staff of Hickory’s 1989 PIAA Class AA championship team, coached by Guy Gibbs.

Brest concluded his tenure as Hornets’ headmaster with the highest winning percentage in program annals, with a won-loss ledger of 83-28 (75 percent). That included 6 consecutive District 10 Class AA championships (7 straight appearances in the title tilt, and following a loss in the latter, 18 consecutive D-10 victories) and a pair of PIAA Final Four berths.

For 3 consecutive years (2012-13-14) Brest was selected as Pennsylvania/Ohio Big 22 coach of the year, and also received the West Penn Football Coaches’ Assn. coach of the year award in back-to-back years (2012-13).

This past season amid numerous injuries, Hickory ended 2-7 overall and opted not to compete in the District 10 playoffs.

In his letter of resignation, Brest wrote, “I leave you with the following mind-set from our past season, ‘The five inner beliefs that make you unstoppable: I focus on only the things that I have total control over – my effort and my attitude; I love what I do and I attack each day with joy and enthusiasm; I dream big and I ignore the naysayers; I am relentless and I will never give up on my dreams; I choose faith over fear.’”

Brest expressed gratitude to his players, staff, parents and all other organizations affiliated with the football program.

“My staff and I thank the players – the foundation of what we, as coaches, do; they have been a joy to work with. There is nothing like facing adversity together and staying on course to meet your objectives together. ... We hope and trust that each student-athlete learned something from the football program, especially in our three pillars of success: Character, academics, work-ethic,” Brest wrote. “Our theme of the program – ‘striving to reach their full potential’ – they can take into the real-world to help make them successful.

“I will miss each and every (assistant coach). They are like brothers,” Brest’s letter continued. “We laughed, cried, argued and rejoiced together – not only on the football field, but as families together. We spent so much time together that there will always be a special bond.  All of my coaches had a strong work-ethic. The main thing I could count on them for was TRUST. Yes, if I could trust a coach, then they could continue to be a part of my staff. ... I focused on trust and work-ethic first, then worked with them on the game of football. My staff is a major reason for this incredible nine-year run,” he noted. 

“I appreciated the overwhelming support from the parents,” Brest continued. “Literally, from the thousands of text-(messages), e-mails, letters, calls and well-wishes, the incredibly large majority of parents were extremely supportive of the football program.  ... The Gridiron (Club) presidents, board, and other parents worked hand-in-hand with me for the needs of the program.”

Coaching X’s and O’s aside, Brest proudly pointed out one of his equally vital duties.

“Academically, I taught the skills and importance of time-management, study skills, and note-taking strategies. The Hornets had a nine-year team (grade-point-average) of 3.35. (And) character development was emphasized to the players – the importance of how to represent oneself in and out of the classroom, as well as in their other academic, social, family, church and athletic arenas of life.”

In conclusion, Brest expressed gratitude to his family “ ... (which)is so very dear to me. He and his wife Diane have a son, Kendall, and daughter, Carly, both of whom are Grove City College students. Kendall, a sophomore, served as an assistant football coach (defensive cornerbacks) to Andrew DiDonato during the Wolverines’ highly-successful 2018 season and Carly, a freshman, is intending to play softball for Coach Kristen Cramer.

“Their love and support during the good and difficult times were always present,” Brest wrote. “I continue to want to be present in their lives and be reciprocal with my love and support. I could not have done this without them! I never fully recovered from my son’s (health) setback – he is my inspiration, as well as my daughter and wife.”

In addition to expressing his affection for Bell, the board, and school administration, Brest, in his letter, concluded, “The Good Lord is faithful! Family is faithful! I want to be able to help guide and direct them in their future endeavors the best that I can!”

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