Dave Bechler Honored by Conference and State-Wide Organizations as Tenure Draws to a Close

Kendal Bauman (left) and Jennifer Young (right), "roasted" Dave Bechler, center, at a spring recognition dinner where Bechler was recognized for 23 years of service to EMS as athletic director.
Kendal Bauman (left) and Jennifer Young (right), "roasted" Dave Bechler, center, at a spring recognition dinner where Bechler was recognized for 23 years of service to EMS as athletic director.

Dave Bechler’s extensive contribution to regional and state-wide athletics competition has been marked this spring by Blue Ridge Conference, Virginia Independent Conference and Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA). After 23 years as EMS athletic director at Eastern Mennonite School, Dave will pursue new professional endeavors at the end of the school year. See article.

“Dave’s long tenure with these organizations ensured stability in those organizations while promoting both sportsmanship and quality athletic competition,” said Kendal Bauman, long-time assistant AD, former boys varsity soccer coach and physical education teacher.

At the state level, Dave served on the VISAA Executive Committee for 14 years (2004 – 2019), the state boys soccer committee for 13 years (2005 – 2019) and the state boys basketball committee for 10 years (2009 – 2019). He was also voted VISAA Athletic Director of the Year in 2013.

At the May 6 VISAA executive committee meeting in Richmond, the group presented Dave with a clock and pen set. The gift recognized Dave’s role as a founding director of the western region of VISAA in 1996. “That clock is pretty special,” reflected Dave. “That’s a group of colleagues I really respect and will miss. We’ve accomplished a lot together.

Dave was a “visionary and servant leader to his conference and the state-wide association,” noted the plaque. “Well done, God bless.”

Virginia Independent Conference and Blue Ridge Conference, both conferences in which EMS competes and which Bechler served as president from 2005 to 2019, presented Dave with a plaque (pictured) at their meeting on May 1. Among accolades referenced there:

– #1 in all-time career wins (boys basketball)
– 22 years as head varsity basketball coach
– 341-291 career record
– Nine-time VIC Coach of the Year

Recognition by colleagues

Earlier this spring at a K-12 faculty and staff spring recognition celebration, long-time colleagues Kendal Bauman and Jennifer Young shared reflections about Dave’s impending departure.

Full of laughs, it was also a time to shed some tears. Anyone who has worked with or played as one of Dave’s basketball players or pursued other athletics under his leadership knows that he has a soft heart.

“I’ve been crying all week,” Dave confessed, leading up to the faculty recognition. “This stuff is hard, but it’s all good.”

Enjoy a video of colleague’s comments. Video courtesy of Matt Weaver ’86.

Accomplishments listed in the video

Facility changes and program upgrades:

Outdoor Facilities:
– Creating new athletic fields (softball, baseball, soccer)
– Dugouts (softball, baseball)
– Scoreboards (all fields)
– Soccer kick walls
– Ballards to protect fields
– Resurfacing the tennis courts
– Field maintenance equipment
– Outdoor concession stand
– Bleachers
– Athletic field maintenance including irrigation

Indoor Facilities:
– Batting cage
– Basketball Shooting machine
– Weight room (2016)
– Gym renovations including replacing the rubber floor with hardwood, new lights, bleachers, and paving the gym parking lot (2009)
– Support for foyer renovation
– Floor system for side volleyball courts

Sports Added:
– Softball
– Girls Soccer
– JV Tennis
– Golf
– Middle school sports (soccer, volleyball, basketball, Cross Country, Track)
– Swim Club

Other Items:
– Hiring an athletic trainer
– JMU Concessions to help pay for athletic uniforms
– Transportation upgraded for athletic teams to mini buses and larger buses
– Continued support of the Athletic Booster Club
– Instrumental in getting the girls sports programs into the Blue Ridge Conference (2001), where they could compete for conference and state titles.
– Moved the cross country invitational from Eastern Mennonite University to Peak View in 2002 (oldest and one of the largest race in VA)
– Started the Menno (2004) & Flames (2016) Classic soccer tournaments
– Flames Tip-Off basketball tournament (1999)
– EMHS Volleyball Jamboree (2008)

“And this last point is probably the most important of all the things Dave has done,” noted Bauman. “He has mentored approximately 45 middle school, 42 JV and 73 varsity coaches; that does not include assistant coaches. He has touched so many athletes through our coaching staff with the philosophy of competing at a high level, but maintaining excellent sportsmanship.”

Check out some more photos from this story

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