As Bill Long enjoys his first fall in retirement after a distinguished 27-year career as a teacher, coach, and dean at the Hun School, he and his wife, Nancy, are heading west this week to start a six-week trip to Calgary, Seattle, and Arizona.
But before he left for that journey, Long was honored last Saturday by Hun for his success in heading the Raider football program from 1987-1997.
The school held a ceremony for Long at the halftime of the Hill-Hun football game, where he was introduced by Athletic Director Bill Quirk and given an ‘H’ made out of wood from the old gym floor and painted red and black.
After the game, a reception was held in his honor on campus, which drew numerous former players and his coaching staff. He received a lamp made out of a Hun football helmet and signed by former players along with a book of letters from players who couldn’t make it back for the evening.
Long, who retired after the 2012-13 school year, was moved by the outpouring of affection.
“What was particularly nice is that the impetus came from past players,” said Long, a 2004 inductee to the Hun Athletics Hall of Fame who guided the Raiders to a 79-19 mark in his 11 seasons at the helm.
“They talked to Nancy, they wanted to surprise me at the Nassau Inn during the summer camp. Nancy contacted Bill Quirk and he suggested that we do something at Homecoming so others could come.”
While Long enjoyed the mementos he received, the biggest gift he got on Saturday was the presence of so many former players and his assistant coaches.
“There were 80-100 people at the reception with around 40-50 players and all of my assistant coaches,” said Long, who was the Dean of Students at Hun upon his retirement and now lives on the Jersey shore.
“I had 12 minutes to speak. I worked three hours in Ocean County Library on Friday preparing the speech, making sure I mentioned all of the people that were going to be there. The main thing I said was that it was my honor and privilege to work alongside every one of the players and coaches.”
For Long, it was his work ethic that helped set him apart as one of the top football coaches in the area.
“I would work all day Sunday on football and I would be thinking about it 24 hours day,” recalled Long, whose teams won more than 20 games in a row during a stretch from 1989-1991 and had three undefeated seasons with five state Prep A crowns.
“I would wake up thinking where a guy could be better on punt coverage than someone else we were using. It was all consuming.”
Spending all that time on football was a labor of love for Long, who is legendary for his positive influence on his players.
“It was the relationships with the players and the assistant coaches that meant the most,” said Long, noting that one of the highlights of his tenure came in 1994 when his son, Bill, served as a team captain.
“I thank my wife Nancy for being a great mother and raising our kids while I was raising other people’s kids.”