Bowie baseball coach Bill Seibert didn't tell his players when he made his decision in February. He didn't tell his players in March, when tryouts started, or in May when it was time for the playoffs to begin. Seibert even held off on delivering the news to his team before the Maryland 4A championship game, not wanting to get too emotional before the biggest contest of the season.
It wasn't until the team was alone, away from parents, fans and the media, on the team bus after the title game that Seibert disclosed that the 8-2 victory the Bulldogs had just claimed over Sherwood would be the last game he would coach for Bowie.
"It's time," Seibert said about why he decided this was the year to go. "I'm going to miss Bowie. I love it."
Seibert began as an assistant coach with Bowie in 1977 and was on the bench for all three of the Bulldog's previous state championships, in 1981, 1982 and 1984. It was after the third title that former coach Bill Vaughn decided to step aside and Seibert was promoted to the top position.
In his 20 years leading Bowie, Seibert compiled a 322-77 mark, never incurring a losing season but also never returning to the state title game until this season. The Bulldogs had reached the state tournament four times in that span, most recently in 1995. As he steps aside, he will leave a new coach (a successor has yet to be named) in a similar situation that he found himself in 1985, trying to defend a state title.
Rumors began circulating among the Bowie players before the state final about the possibility their coach would retire and grew even stronger afterward. Still, it was difficult for most of the players to believe.
"I think it could have [been his last game], but I don't think it will be," junior designated hitter Zachary Adomanis said. "I think he's too excited."
After the Bulldogs cleared the field and boarded their bus, Seibert broke the news.
Adomanis, who scored what proved to be the game-winning run against Sherwood, is a perfect example of the bond Seibert has developed with the Bowie community.
Chris Adomanis, Zachary Adomanis' father, was a member of the 1979 Bowie team that advanced to the state title game in Seibert's third season with the Bulldogs. Seibert noted that throughout his 20 years, the faces in the crowd and the support he received never seemed to change.
"The parents are great; it's a super community," Seibert said. "We're a big small town. Look at the crowd up there [in the stands] tonight, it's a small-town atmosphere."
Those who benefited most from Seibert's guidance during his 27 years with the program were undoubtedly his players.
"His motto is superior coaching," Zachary Adomanis said. "Every time something goes right, it's superior coaching. Every time something goes wrong, it's bad coaching. The whole season was superior coaching by him and the assistants that made us what we are today."
The 2004 version of the Bulldogs finished the season with a 25-1 mark, a school record for victories in a season; they won 20 games in a row to finish the season. Their run total of 325, an astounding 12.5 runs per game, is the most for a Bulldogs team.
Family is a big reason why Seibert decided this year would be his last. He has two grandchildren he wants to spend time with, but next spring Seibert will still be a part of that "big, small town" cheering on the Bulldogs, only he'll be doing it from the stands instead of the dugout.