Fresh off Neenah High School’s first state girls volleyball championship since 1978, head coach Bruce Moriarty has decided to call it a career.
Moriarty will retire after 19 illustrious seasons with the Rockets in which he posted a 604-198 career record. He hands the program over to Emily Bennett, who was the Rockets’ assistant coach the past year after five years as the junior varsity coach.
Moriarty’s teams made six trips to the state tournament and advanced to sectionals in 18 of his 19 seasons. Since taking over the program in 1998, Moriarty’s teams advanced to state in 1999, 2005, 2012, 2013 and 2015 before the championship season this past fall. Neenah finished 46-4 during the 2016 season and swept Burlington in the state title match for its second state championship.
“It’s just the right time,” said Moriarty, who will continue to teach math and leadership classes at the high school, “My health is good and it’s just time to turn the page for something else and let Emily Bennett put her spin on the program. She and Brandon Kirkland are tremendous coaches and I know the program is in great hands.”
Moriarty guided the Rockets to six Fox Valley Association championships, including three straight undefeated conference seasons from 2011-13 when Neenah set FVA records with 35 straight conference wins and 79 straight set victories. He worked with 12 athletes who went on to sign scholarships and play at the NCAA Division I level.
“My greatest memories are the kids I had a chance to coach and the parents who played a big part in our program,” Moriarty said. “I particularly will remember the undefeated streak and, of course, winning state this past year was the topper.”
“Each and every day of his coaching career, Bruce has taught our student-athletes the values of hard work, dedication, class, and respect,” said Athletics Director Nate Werner. “Bruce is a true champion to his players and has built life-long relationships with everyone he has worked with.”
Bennett played for Moriarty before graduating from Neenah in 2005. She played collegiately at NCAA Division II Hillsdale College (Mich) where her teams made three NCAA tournament appearances. Bennett returned to Neenah following graduation and now teaches science in the high school’s project-based learning Arete Academy.
“Emily is a quality educator and coach,” Werner said. “We have no doubt that she will continue to move the Neenah girls volleyball program in a positive direction and we know the program continues to be in good hands.”
Bennett will be just the fourth coach coach in nearly 50 years of Neenah girls volleyball history. Jean Kessler was Neenah’s first coach and Ken Boivin led the program until Moriarty took over in 1998.