BILLINGS — Bill Triplett is heading back to the college ranks.
Triplett, who has coached in Montana and North Dakota for almost 40 years combined, will be Williston State College's next head women's basketball coach, the North Dakota community college announced Tuesday. Triplett's move ends a brief semi-retirement.
"I’ve been coaching my whole life and loved that profession," Triplett told 406mtsports.com Tuesday. "I just thought, 'You might as well be doing something you love.'"
Triplett, 63, spent 21 years as the girls basketball coach at Reed Point-Rapelje and 10 as head softball coach and women's basketball assistant at Minot State. He returned to Montana in 2018 and has lived in Lambert with his wife Kara in the two years since.
After coaching the Savage girls basketball team in 2018-19, Triplett basically took this past winter off. He coached Richey-Lambert junior high girls basketball and watched all of the Fusion's high school boys basketball games. Kara coached the Richey-Lambert boys, and her son Hunter Watson (Triplett's stepson) was a senior on the team.
Triplett figured he'd be fine with this setup when he left Minot two years ago, a decision he made mainly to be with Kara (Minot is nearly 200 miles away from Lambert). But spending a year without a major head coaching gig wasn't easy for Triplett.
"You think you’re ready, and then you don’t really know you’re not ready until a year or two go by," he said. "As time goes by and you miss it, you miss it a lot."
Triplett and Kara have put roots down in Lambert, so his eyes didn't wander far from the Richland County borders when he began to search for coaching jobs this year. He also wanted to coach a college program.
"College level pays a little more than high school," he said with a laugh.
Triplett's parameters narrowed his college options down to Dawson Community College and Williston State, which are both about 70 miles away from Lambert. Dawson didn't have any coaching job openings. Williston obviously did. He applied for the women's hoops job, and WSC extended an offer.
"Coach Triplett brings a well-established network of relationships with high school and college coaches to his duties at WSC," school president John Miller said in a press release. "His contacts will help our women's basketball program on the front end with recruiting talent from Montana and North Dakota, and his coaching connections in NCAA DII will help move talented players to the next level when their time playing for the Tetons comes to an end."
Triplett has to figure out how to recruit while everyone is sheltering in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. It's a challenge he's happily accepted.
Triplett plans to spend two to three nights in Williston during the regular season. That proposition would be a deal-breaker for many couples. Not so for Triplett and Kara.
"She’s the one who told me, 'You’d be crazy not to take that job,'" Triplett said. "My wife probably knows me better than I know me. She could tell I was missing it."