Steve Hibberd was getting a bit envious looking over at neighbor Brett Lively.
Lively was spending more time with his family and his golf game had steadily improved since he stepped down as head coach of the Stafford High School boys basketball team in 2019.
Hibberd was in his fourth season at North Stafford and considered a break, as well.
Hibberd is now freed up to join his neighbor and friend on the links more often.
He’s informed North Stafford’s administration and his players that he’s stepped down after four seasons.
The Wolverines went 66-13 in Hibberd’s four years and captured the Commonwealth District tournament championship this past season.
“I love coaching. I worked hard at this job,” Hibberd said. “The administration did me a favor giving me this job four years ago … I’m going to take a year off and possibly more. I’m sure another opportunity will come up if I get the bug again.”
Hibberd arrived at North Stafford from West Virginia, where he was the head coach at Cabell Midland High. He had previously served on the coaching staff at Huntington High (W.Va.) when it won the Class AAA state championship.
That experience level wowed North Stafford’s administration when Hibberd was hired to replace Lively after the former departed the Wolverines to return to his alma mater, Stafford.
Hibberd had planned to be an assistant coach and teach special education. North Stafford principal Dan Hornick said it was rare to have someone of Hibberd’s experience readily available when Lively departed.
“When Brett left it was kind of a no-brainer to go with Steve because of his experience level,” Hornick said. “Brett did a good job stabilizing the program and Steve took it to the next level. He’s a player’s coach, and that’s built on having solid relationships and putting kids first. That’s important for any good educator and he brought those qualities to our basketball program.”
Hibberd said he initially planned to coach three years. But when he took over the program, future star Javon Swinton was a freshman.
Swinton went on to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. He’s a three-time All-Area performer and was named first-team all-state in Class 5 his final two seasons. He has a football scholarship to Indiana University and plans to join its basketball program as a walk-on.
The presence of Swinton swayed Hibberd for one more run.
“When you have Javon Swinton as a senior it’s hard to walk away from that,” Hibberd said.
Hibberd now plans to spend more time with his 9 year-old son and 5 year-old future stepson. He plans to get remarried soon depending on when the coronavirus pandemic eases up.
Hibberd said he expects the job to attract internal and external attention. The Wolverines have six coaches in the freshman, junior varsity and varsity programs that work at the school.
Hornick is hopeful COVID-19 doesn’t slow up the hiring process. He said the goal is to have a coaching candidate’s name to submit to the Stafford County School Board in late May or early June. He said the school has used technology to conduct interviews for coaches and teachers in the past and will do so again.
North Stafford athletic director Mark Coleman said Hibberd will be missed on the sideline but will continue to be a positive influence as he remains on the teaching staff.
“Coach Hibberd was one of the pillars of our coaching staff here at North and will continue to be so … His coaching, mentoring and leading of young men has set a foundation that will live on and be the bar for many years to come,” Coleman said.