Citrus High gets new running coach

Published June 20, 2006

INVERNESS - Citrus will have a new girls cross country coach this fall, and it's a former Crystal River assistant football coach, Billy Bass.

Bass, 35, said he recently accepted the position, but has not told the team yet. Bass replaces Tracy Buettner, who has coached the 'Canes since 2003. Citrus athletic director Vicki Overman said Buettner is going "to work" after being a stay-at-home mother.

"Billy's done a little bit of everything," Overman said. "So he's a good fit for our program."

Bass previously worked as Dunnellon's athletic director for a year and as the Tigers' track and assistant football coach for three years in the mid '90s. Bass said he then started his own business, the Billy Bass Tackle Co. that was later bought by Misty Lane Enterprise.

Bass taught at Lecanto in 1999 before joining Crystal River's staff as an assistant football coach and history and law teacher in 2000. Bass has not coached football for the past two seasons, and helped start Crystal River's fishing club two years ago with Harold Wingate.

Bass, who will teach A.P. American history and law at Citrus, said he wanted a chance to work for Leigh Ann Bradshaw, "a wonderful administrator," and has always "enjoyed running."

After graduating from Martin County High in Stuart, where Bass was a middle and distance runner, he went to Division III Methodist College as a running back. Bass said he did not play after re-aggravating a right shoulder injury, that he had repeatedly separated and had three surgeries on in high school, during preseason training as a freshman in Fayetteville, N.C. He later transferred to Florida State where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1993 after earning his associates degree at Methodist College.

Bass said he was one of the founding members of the Citrus County Road Runners and won the 30-34 male age category last year in the Road Runners multiple race series.

"I do a lot of running to stay in shape," Bass said. "It's a great way to relax, think and set goals."

Bass hopes that philosophy will catch on at Citrus, a program that struggled to field a team this past season. Bass said a core of four girls will return this fall and he has a list of 15 additional interested girls.

Bass said he plans on building a strong girls cross country program like his friend, Lecanto cross country coach Dan Esptein has done at the rival high school.

But he knows it won't happen instantly.

"Yeah, Dan has already told me he's going to kick my butt," Bass said with a laugh. "I told him 'give me two years and we'll see what happens.' "

Dawn Reiss can be reached at dreiss@sptimes.com or 352 860-7303.