On Monday, Bill Regnier will begin his second season as an assistant Bedford wrestling coach when the Kicking Mules practice for the first time. Regnier, of course, is known best for what he did as the program’s head coach, when, from 1965 to 1995, he collected nine state team titles, 26 Great Lakes League championships, and 500 dual meet wins. He rejoined the program last year, assisting head coach Denny Brighton, and will stick around to help first-year head coach Kevin Vogel. Vogel, like Brighton, won two state titles at Bedford competing for Regnier.
Regnier, 69, is a member of the National High School Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was Bedford’s athletic director from 1995 to 2010.
Why did you decide to return?
I came back last year. Coach Denny Brighton was one of my wrestlers, and my grandson [Al, now a senior] is also still wrestling, so I kind of wanted to be around when he was there. And I wanted to get back into it a little bit.
What are your thoughts on Kevin coming back as head coach?
Well, we were kind of disappointed when Denny decided to hang it up, but he had several things that he needed to do and several issues that he needed to take care of with his own family. It was kind of a heartbreak for us that he left. We’re very excited that Kevin was available and that he wanted to help our team.
Did you have thoughts of pursuing the opening?
I would have only done it as an interim-type person until we found someone else who would want to take it. We were excited that we had an ex wrestler that has trained for the Olympics and has been with the University of Michigan for quite a while and was a great wrestler in college and of course was a great wrestler in high school. He was available and we’re certainly glad that he applied.
Are you still able to get on the mats with the kids?
Uh, no. I do more instruction and help with them. I don’t actually wrestle the kids. Kevin does.
Has the team moved into a new practice room?
We raised money to build a new weight room. When we built the new weight room we were able to take the old weight room and convert that to a wrestling room, which would be the first actual wrestling room for Bedford High School. Before, we were down in a little lockerroom [about 28 feet by 28 feet].
What is your fondest coaching moment?
The greatest coaching moment is when you see kids achieve things that they never thought they could. Where you see a youngster, as a freshman, or as an eighth grader or a seventh grader, and he just keep improving every year. Those are great moments. One of the greatest moments of my life was being able to coach my son [Mike].
What is your philosophy for success?
I’m a stickler for hard work and conditioning. Sometimes that doesn’t go over real good, but I just feel like you can beat a technician if you can make him go the full time. You can get him in the third period if you make him go more than he wants to.
After you retired in 1995 did you take a break from wrestling?
I had to get away from it because I was the A.D. and I had to take care of more people than just the wrestling program at that time. I was still involved in it as far as going to all the matches — as many as I could.
How has the sport changed over time?
There’s more young wrestlers that are better now that have been wrestling in club competition for six, seven years before they even get to high school. There’s several schools that are, I don’t want to say recruiting, but they start a club and people come from other schools to go to that club to wrestle for them at the high school. That makes teams a lot stronger.
How many more years do you plan to coach?
I’ll work that out with my wife [Carol]. Whatever she says. If I’m done next year, I’m done.