01062021 Windsor head girls basketball coach Bruce Mackay

Windsor head girls basketball coach Bruce Mackay hoists one of his state championship nets. Mackay will be retiring after 14 years as coach.

WINDSOR — Things will be very different this season in Windsor as Yellow Jackets girls head coach Bruce Mackay won’t be on the bench, making the difficult choice to step aside.

With 14 years on the sidelines at Windsor, Mackay decided that it was time to hang up his whistle, citing health, family and coronavirus-related concerns in an announcement on Monday.

“I thought about this so much and it was very hard to tell Jim Taft on Monday morning, there were times when I would sit in my house in the dark deciding what to do,” Mackay said.

“This has been weighing on me for quite a while, I look back and if we could have finished out last season. I may have decided then. We were ready, we had probably our best practices and everyone was peaking but we never got the chance to go to Barre, it left me with an empty feeling.”

Some athletes came out and spoke about the impact Mackay has made in the community.

“Bruce had many great seasons with a lot of amazing players, and over my four years, our team had some really great memories with him,” said former player Angelina Bigwood. “He’ll definitely always be a significant part of the Windsor High School girls basketball program for a very long time, and we all thank him for his time that he put into the program.”

Windsor Assistant Athletic Director Andy Tufts made an announcement in an email late on Monday.

“Longtime Windsor girls basketball head coach Bruce Mackay has made the very difficult decision to retire, effective immediately, from his coaching position due primarily to the reality of coaching amid a pandemic, and related health concerns.

“In Bruce’s tenure at [Windsor High School], he has led the program to numerous final four appearances in Barre, and a handful of state championships, while being a beloved coach, mentor, and friend to all students and adults who had the pleasure of working with him. Windsor athletics is grateful for all of Bruce’s contributions to our school and we wish him all the best.”

Before spending more than a decade in Windsor after Bob Hingston hired him, Mackay coached at Stevens High School for a few years and in Springfield as an assistant coach.

“It’s not just about coaching, it’s about the scouting and practices. Family is so important and as a team, we’ve always come together when things happened,” Mackay said. “That is such a big part of it and it’s going to be missed greatly.”

While Mackay will surely miss being on the court, he does have a lot to look forward to.

“I usually walk over six miles a day plus golf at least four times a week in Florida so I’ll be busy and active and the Vermont winters just make it hard to do that. I’ll plan on living in Naples for 10 months with my wife Jean and we’ll come back home for June and July.”

Kabray Rockwood, who has served as Bruce’s assistant and Windsor’s junior varsity coach, will serve as interim head coach, assisted by Randy Rupp.

“He’s so dedicated to the sport and each one of his players. I couldn’t think of anyone better to take over the program,” Bigwood said. “I have had Mackay as a coach since fourth grade and growing up he has been one of my favorite coaches.”

Rockwood has been heavily involved with the middle school and AAU programs over the years while being on the Windsor bench as a junior varsity coach for the past four years.

“There will be a fair amount of scrambling but there is a good group of players and they already know their roles, I just want to keep thing headed in the same direction,” Rockwood said.

“I wouldn’t change a thing, there are so many great memories and I’m going to miss the players the most,” Mackay said. “It was an honor to be able to coach at Windsor.”

sports @eagletimes.com

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