Achieving personal milestones has never been the reason Bobby Dobson coaches boys high-school basketball. Ask him how many career victories he’s amassed since landing his first varsity head coaching job with the Washington-Liberty Generals High School team (then Washington-Lee) back in 1993-94, Dobson will say: “I have no idea. I don’t keep track and I don’t care.”
When Dobson was told in recent days that he had 297 wins, three short of a significant milestone, he reacted modestly. “Thanks. That’s nice. It’s good for our program.”
Dobson won his 300th game the night of Jan. 19 when his Generals defeated the host Herndon Hornets, 57-40. Coincidently, Dobson lives in Herndon.
As a result of the milestone, Dobson began receiving congratulations from many current or former coaching peers throughout Northern Virginia. Dobson is the longest tenured coach at the same school in the old Northern Region setup.
Dobson said his passion for coaching is stronger than ever, having no plans to stop. During his 28 seasons as W-L’s coach, it’s been all about the players and team for Dobson.
“I had a former player tell someone during a presentation that I was one of the most influential people in his life, along with his grandmother,” Dobson said. “I really appreciated that, because the players is why I coach. It’s special when they say how much they appreciate you. I never wanted to coach for personal awards.”
Dobson began the season with 293 career wins
The coach is more excited about his team playing well and having a 7-3 overall record and a 4-2 Liberty District than his career-win total.
Two of Dobson’s closet friends are Tony Bentley and Horace “Buck” Willis, the head and assistant boys basketball coaches at W-L’s Arlington rival Wakefield High School. Each originally coached as assistants under Dobson at W-L.
“When I got the head job at Wakefield, Bobby gave us the blessing to both go to Wakefield, and that was a big deal, and good of him for doing that,” Bentley said.
Dobson jokes now that he should never have let either get away. Each are full-time members of the W-L faculty. Bentley is approaching 350 career wins as Wakefield’s head coach.
“Those two are my guys,” Dobson said.
Dobson grew up in Falls Church, eventually playing high-school basketball for three years at Flint Hill, during the school’s former prep-school setup. He played there under coach Stu Vetter and with eventual Georgia Tech and NBA standout Dennis Scott.
Dobson played in college at then Division II Longwood College, becoming a starter as a junior and senior, graduating in 1989. He was a teammate at Longwood of Wakefield graduate Joe Lowe.
As a senior for Longwood, Dobson started all 27 games, leading the team in assists with 136 and steals with 109. He averaged 6.3 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. In 18 games as a junior, Dobson led the Lancers with 51 steals and was second in assists with 78.
After college, Dobson began coaching in high school when he was hired as the boys junior varsity coach at Bishop O’Connell by former athletic director Darrell Snyder. He coached there one year, then was hired to replace John Phillips as the new head boys varsity coach at W-L.
“I was kind of surprised I got the W-L job,” Dobson said. “I still love it.”
Prior to playing Herndon, Washington-Liberty had lost two straight games to Yorktown and South Lakes, delaying the 300 milestone for the head coach.