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The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

Lake Bids Farewell to Beloved Coach, Mentor, and Friend

%E2%80%9CCoach+Nesbitt+was+a+huge+family+guy.+I+saw+him+with+his+family%3A+his%0Awife+and+sons.+Seeing+that+was+also+hugely+impactful+for+me%2C%E2%80%9D+said%0ACoach+Justin+Thomas.+Photo+Credit+Mr.+Pickett.
“Coach Nesbitt was a huge family guy. I saw him with his family: his wife and sons. Seeing that was also hugely impactful for me,” said Coach Justin Thomas. Photo Credit Mr. Pickett.

Dave “Bear” Nesbitt was more than just a coach.

He was a mentor, pioneer, friend, grandpa, dad, husband, and Wildecat.

He could be strict while holding his team to high standards. He would make his players run and do tucks until they were prepared. But he also had the kindest of hearts.

He was beloved by many students and families in the Wilde Lake community, with a heart not only for the game, but for his players. In Howard County, Coach Nesbitt was a true soccer icon. He introduced his own innovative method of playing to the fields.

Mr. Pickett, former player of Coach Nesbitt’s and current WildeLake Art teacher and assistant boy’s soccer coach describes Coach Nesbitt’s method as “possession oriented.” “The system of playing possession oriented soccer, the way of thinking about it is not just kicking and running as fast as and as hard as you can… [he taught] young athletes to understand that there are different ways to solve a problem.”

In his final season, Coach Nesbitt coached varsity player Evan Figueroa on the sideline.“He wanted everyone to be a team player,” said Figgs. Photo Credit Evan Figueroa.

Even without a playing pedigree, in his time coaching Coach Nesbitt led the Cats to win six state championships. These titles took work.

According to Coach Justin Thomas, former Wildecat soccer player and current coach of the Centennial Eagles boy’s soccer team, Coach Nesbitt worked his players with “high standards.” He pushed his players to build his team.

“He made you reach that standard, and there wasn’t any other option,” Coach Thomas said, “You learned pretty quickly what you can’t do. In general, messing around and wasting time wasn’t allowed. You really trained hard and didn’t want to make a mistake in practice.”

Junior Evan Figueroa played under Coach Nesbitt for two years. Figueroa, better known as “Figgs,” remembers Coach Nesbitt telling the team that there are “players” on the field and there are “participators.”

He says that this team-player mentality was a large piece of Coach Nesbitt’s high standard. “You would have to play for the team and play for Wilde Lake. He wanted everyone to be a team player,” Figgs said.

Players remember Coach Nesbitt for his caring presence, but also for his momentary but rare outbursts. Coach Nesbitt would say, “I think we need an attitude adjustment,” while running his players. As Coach Thomas said, “He genuinely cared about the players, and he had tough love. He’ll tear you down, but he’ll build you up at the same time.”

Coach Nesbitt truly acted as a role model for his players as they reflected on him with great “love.” To Coach Thomas, Coach Nesbitt was more than a high school coach, but an inspiration and role model as a Black coach.

On his 80th birthday, Coach Nesbitt sits beside his youngest grandson, Finn. Finn played JV soccer for the Wildecats for the 2023 season. Coach Nesbitt’s older grandsons, Liam and Shea, played for the Cats under Coach Nesbitt. Photo Credit Finn Nesbitt.

“There were very few coaches of color at all, and in soccer, there weren’t that many Black players either, so that had a huge impact on me, feeling like I belonged there,” he said, “I think up until that point I had never had a Black coach until high school, so that gave me the confidence to coach too.”

Coach Nesbitt built up a great deal of confidence in his players, allowing them to see the impact a coach can have on their athletes. “He gave me the confidence to be a coach and build the kids athletically as players. He lead the team to do things that we did not think we were able to do,” Mr. Pickett said.

In instilling such confidence in his athletes, Coach Nesbitt created a family atmosphere. He influenced his players’ perspective on soccer, revealing to them that it is more than just a game.

According to Figgs, Coach Nesbitt made his players take something away from each practice.

The Cats would have to write notes in a journal after practice to reflect on their playing. “He made sure you took notes when you went home. Every time you were with him, there was a lesson to learn, something to take away, something to improve from,” he said.

Coach Nesbitt made his players feel like they were part of a special group.

“It really felt like a family atmosphere, and everybody knew each other. Coach Nesbitt organized pasta dinners when that sort of thing wasn’t happening,” said Thomas. To many, Coach Nesbitt was a source of family.

Wilde Lake Lacrosse Coach and special educator Tony Bell saw Coach Nesbitt as a father figure. “I never had a father, and Coach Nesbitt was like a very close father figure to me,” said Coach Bell. As a big “family man,” Coach Nesbitt left such a mark on many of his players, including his own grandsons.

Finn Nesbitt, Coach Nesbitt’s youngest grandson, says that his grandfather taught him “how to be a better person”.

“He’s always been somebody I felt like I could be safe around and could really talk to. He was always at my games,” said Finn.

For many, Coach Nesbitt left his mark. As Coach Bell said, “He helped me become a better teacher, coach, man, father, and grandfather. What more can I say?”

Coach Nesbitt passed peacefully in his home on July 19, 2023.

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