Bill Bellers takes over the varsity team but in a program he is quite familiar with. After coaching the junior varsity team for the last four years, Bellers has moved on up to run the varsity team as the head coach.
Bellers, 35, said the move up the ranks just “made sense.”
“For me it’s all about doing right for the kids,” he said. “It just made sense.”
And since he was the JV coach for the last four years, he is certainly familiar with the players he has on the football field.
“Most of them have played for me on JV,” he said. “And since I already have that connection with them, it made it an easy decision for me to go for the varsity job and do the job.”
Bellers grew up southeast of Ann Arbor and played football at Lincoln High School and graduated in 1999. He was an offensive and defensive lineman for the Railsplitters.
He played a couple of seasons at Adrian College before hanging up the cleats and transferring to Eastern Michigan University to focus on his studies. He earned a teaching degree at EMU.
“I grew up just outside the bubble of Ann Arbor and know full well of Pioneer’s tradition,” he said. “What I remember most about high school football was the camaraderie and being a part of something bigger than myself. I was an awful athlete but this game gave me something I could be a part of and contribute to despite my lack of athleticism.”
Bellers says football helped mold him into the person he is today. It taught discipline, work ethic and team work – all traits he’s glad to have in his back pocket.
“I didn’t want to leave the game of football so I went back to Lincoln and volunteered,” he said.
And he’s been on the sideline ever since.
Bellers knows all about the history of Pioneer football. In fact, he knows a lot about history since he teaches the subject in the high school. And being in the high school is a huge advantage for any coach.
“The fact that I teach in the building, and I’m in a position where I can have contact with them all day and every day and looking out for their well-being was a big reason why I wanted the job,” said Bellers, who has taught US history at Pioneer for three years.
If history matters on the football field, week one will not be easy for the Pioneers, who open the season on Friday at Muskegon. The Big Reds, who defeated Pioneer 51-14 in last year’s season opener, reached the state championship game before losing 29-28 to Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s in the Division 3 finals at Ford Field.