Bill Edwards — a racer, coach, educator and friend to many cyclists — passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. Bill was instrumental in creating the Cycling Skills Group program that the League provides in partnership with the National MS Society and the American Diabetes Association.
Bill coached some great riders and made many friends in the industry. Racer Chris Carmichael sent the following in tribute to Bill.
When I retired from racing and was making the transition into coaching, Bill Edwards was superb guide. An engineer by training, he was calm, consistent, and quietly confident. I, on the other hand, was young, aggressive, and impatient. I didn’t think a whole lot of coaches in the US at the time; in the early 1990s there were very few coaches, and even fewer who had any kind of racing experience. But Bill was different and his commitment to the athletes he worked with was very impressive. He was a cycling coach before it was popular; he was a man ahead of his time. Where there are more than 1400 licensed USA Cycling Coaches now, back in the early 90s they could all fit in one room, and a small one at that. Into this environment I strutted, fresh from a professional racing career and feeling invincible. I craved action and wanted results fast, but Bill helped me understand the process of developing athletes and how to be more patient while they learned and grew stronger. I’m still aggressive and pretty impatient, but I’m far wiser for having been mentored by Bill.
Perhaps the most important lesson Bill Edwards taught me, and the lesson we should all carry forward, is that coaching athletes is about far more than improving their performance in competition. It’s about developing honorable men and women, guiding young people to value hard work, honesty, and perseverance. As a coach – especially working as a development coach – you have to realize that only a handful of the athletes you work with will ever make a career out of sport, but with every single one you have the opportunity to be a positive force in his or her life. More than the opportunity, you have the responsibility to have a positive impact on their character. Throughout his career, Bill was a steady, consistent mentor to athletes and coaches, including me. He trained some great athletes, but the full impact of his life and career extend far beyond his coaching resume. Bill Edwards played a big role in the development of coaching into a respected profession, and everyone of us who has the privilege of being a professional coach should be grateful for Bill’s work. More than athletes, Bill trained great people, some who are still involved in US Cycling and many who have moved on to be successful in other areas.
I will miss my old friend. I will miss having him as a sounding board, because even though I’ve been a coach for more than 20 years now, you’re never too old or too experienced to benefit from the sage wisdom of a great mentor.
- Chris Carmichael
League Director of Education