By GARY DOVE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Earlier this week, River View head football coach Mitch Estep retired from that position, bringing to an end a gridiron coaching career that spanned over three decades.
Estep guided the Raiders their first three years of existence, compiling a 23-10-1 mark and taking River View to the Class AA playoff all three seasons.
Prior to the past three years, Estep served as head football coach at Iaeger, his alma mater, for 30 seasons, advancing to the playoffs 10 times. Overall, Estep finishes with a win-loss record of 212-135-1.
Related the personable coach, “I felt it was time (to retire). I have two grandchildren and two elderly parents. I want to spend some time with them.”
River View Principal Michael Tye spoke of Estep, “He’s impacted hundreds and maybe thousands of kids, not only in football, but in school, at both Iaeger and River View. … He’s a great role model.”
Estep had planned to retire from teaching, but remain as head football coach at River View, but decided to step down in order to spend more time with his family.
A 1975 Iaeger grad and a 1979 Bluefield State College alum, Estep returned as an assistant coach for the Cubs in the fall of 1979, when Iaeger made its first playoff appearance under the guidance of Howard “Butch” Bivens, Estep’s former coach.
Bivens stepped down after that campaign and Estep took the reins in 1980.
In 1981, the Cubs finished 10-1, after completing the regular season unbeaten.
That team was the first Estep took to the playoffs, and was followed to post season action by Cub squads in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2009.
The 2000 team advanced to the Class AA semifinals before being knocked out of the playoffs by eventual state runner-up Wayne.
Looking back, Estep remarked, “I had the opportunity to do something I love doing.”
“I’ve always been told to ‘Leave it better than you found it.’ That’s what I tried to do here. … When we came to River View, I wanted to see everything complete and it is now: We have a beautiful field, nice dressing rooms and I feel like everything is complete now,” continued Estep.
Tye summed up, “I feel privileged to have been able to see him (Coach Estep) when I was a student (at Iaeger) and now, working with him, and seeing the great guy he is.”
The head coaching position has been posted for bids, with a successor expected to be named next week.