The decision to step down as head coach of the Buckeye Central girls volleyball team wasn't an easy one for Bill Bonham.
But taking over his alma mater's program at Tiffin Columbian is something he's always envisioned.
"It's home for me," said Bonham, a 1994 Columbian graduate. "I grew up in Bloomville and Tiffin and spent a lot of time in Tiffin growing up. I went to college at Heidelberg and consider Tiffin home. I have a lot of ties, and when I go back for football and basketball games I see a lot of old teachers and some of the new teachers are people I went to school with.
"On the volleyball side of things, some people have asked me to come back, and one of the things that really set it up for me is when one of my former teachers and coaches found out I was coming in, looked at me and said, 'Welcome home.' That's what it comes down to."
During his four years at the helm of the Buckettes, Bonham boasted a 90-12 record. He reached his 100th career win during Buckeye Central's sectional semifinal victory over St. Peter's. The game also marked the start of the Buckettes' 26-3 journey to the Division IV state final four.
"It's nothing that Buckeye Central did or didn't do, or didn't offer, or anything like that," Bonham said. "I'm going from a program where I just went to state to a team that won five games and taking a $1,000 pay cut. The only thing I'm gaining from this is it's my home."
Prior to his time in Dutchtown, Bonham spent two seasons as the head coach at Fremont Ross, where he recorded 15 wins.
"A lot of people think I'm crazy for walking away, but the last four years have been absolutely amazing," Bonham said. "Everybody treated me great, and I'm not walking away with any regrets. I'm walking away on my own terms and with a lot of memories and good people.
"I'm still right here. I'm only 15 minutes away. That part is not changing. I can be more of a fan now. I don't have to stress about the decisions, but I can still cheer the girls on and help them."
Bonham started out his volleyball coaching career in 1995 as an assistant for the Tornadoes. Last year he was an assistant for the Columbian baseball team, and will serve as the varsity assistant this spring.
"He's been very successful here and done a very nice job of continuing on the tradition we've had in the past," Buckeye Central athletic director Jan Bates said. "I think that is the job he's wanted for a number of years now and we wish him the best of luck at Tiffin Columbian."
In the past four years Bonham has led the Buckettes to four North Central Conference titles, four sectional championships, two district final appearances, one district title, one regional banner and the program's 10th trip to the state tournament.
"Buckeye Central has got that tradition and they've always had it and always will," Bonham said. "It's been an honor to be a part of it for four years. I can say I got to be a Buckette for four years which is like somebody in major league baseball saying they got to be a Yankee for a year. It's being a Dallas Cowboy or a Pittsburgh Steeler in the volleyball world.
"I got to be Buckeye Central's head coach, go to state and experience some great things. I'll never forget any of those memories. They are hanging on my wall and will never come down. It was tough to walk away from that and those girls."