George Bitner has achieved a lot in his coaching career — and the honors keep coming.
The Spring Lake boys and girls golf coach achieved the highest one possible this month. He was named USA Today's boys high school coach of the year.
It was a complete shock to the 77-year-old Bitner.
"A father of one of my students in the fifth grade, and she was on my golf team, saw me at the (Spring Lake) Country Club," the former teacher said. "And he said, ‘Congratulations on national coach of the year, do you know about it?’
"I said, 'No.' I thought he was talking about the open house (an event Spring Lake held for in May to celebrate Bitner’s 50 years of coaching). ... He said, ‘No, in the USA Today.’ I had my wife look it up and sure enough it was in the USA Today high school sports (section). I was completely surprised. I never thought they would consider coaches from small towns."
Bitner said he thought the publicity surrounding his banquet for 50 years of coaching contributed to the recognition from USA Today. The Spring Lake boys actually ended up finishing second to Ludington in the Lakes Eight this season, ending a four-year conference championship streak.
Bitner has certainly accomplished a lot with both the Lakers' boys and girls teams.
The boys have garnered and .820 winning percentage under his watch.
Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.