Avery Point's Bidwell preparing to begin another chapter in his life

Roger Bidwell, center, then the UConn Avery Point baseball coach, is congratulated by his team for his 1,000th career victory on May 8, 2015. Bidwell, who retired from coaching after that season, is retiring as athletic director, as well, as of Aug. 1. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Roger Bidwell, center, then the UConn Avery Point baseball coach, is congratulated by his team for his 1,000th career victory on May 8, 2015. Bidwell, who retired from coaching after that season, is retiring as athletic director, as well, as of Aug. 1. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Little by little, Roger Bidwell is cleaning out his UConn Avery Point office where he's spent more than 36 years.

Days are counting down to the end of his long and distinguished career as athletic director.

The reality that he'll officially retire on Aug. 1 still hasn't sunk in.

"I think when I'm finally done it will probably hit me at some point in time," Bidwell said Tuesday.

Originally, Bidwell's retirement date was July 1, but he agreed to stick around for another month to help prepare for the transition. Roughly 40 people applied for the job but interviews have yet to begin. The goal is to fill the position by the beginning of the school year.

Bidwell already has experienced one retirement. He stepped away from coaching the UConn Avery Point baseball team in 2015 after racking up 1,007 wins and reaching six National Junior College Athletic Association World Series in 34 seasons. He also was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame.

His legacy is just as impressive as an athletic director.

Through hard work, determination and dedication, Bidwell built and maintained a first rate athletic department while operating on a tight budget. He had the vision to push the move to the NJCAA in 1985. He remained loyal to UConn Avery Point, bypassing other job offers during his tenure.

As a UConn graduate, he felt a strong connection to Avery Point.

"It was more than a job to me and I made it more than a job," Bidwell said. "I never looked at the clock. I enjoyed it. It was difficult many times. But it wasn't HVAC work. I was my own boss. I was given the flexibility to develop programs the way I felt was best. That freedom was appreciated many times."

Bidwell knew nothing about the administrative side of college athletics when taking the job in 1982. He intended on finishing graduate school at UConn until George Greer convinced him to come to Avery Point to coach baseball and be athletic director. Bidwell left graduate school after one semester.

Working for his father's heating, ventilation and air conditioning business after graduating from UConn convinced him to take another path.

"I didn't anticipate anything like this," Bidwell said of his Avery Point career. "I went back to grad school because the HVAC business, my dad's business, wasn't for me. And I got my undergraduate degree in education so I figured that I'd go back to school, be a grad assistant with Andy Baylock and see where that led to.

"It was time for me to get out of the HVAC business more than anything. I found out that I wasn't real good at it, so that kind of motivated me to do something else."

Something else lasted 36 and a half years.

Bidwell has watched the job evolve into something entirely different than when he started.

"Today, I wouldn't have got the job," Bidwell said. "The person that will be getting my job now is going to be better qualified for it than I ever was. It has changed. The campus has changed. College athletics has changed. ... I don't know if you're going to find somebody to stay there as long as I did."

Bidwell will be in charge right until the end, including being involved in the plans for his own retirement party, which will be held on July 27 at UConn Avery Point's Branford House.

About the only thing he may be better at than his job is running a social event.

"I'm actually paying for it," Bidwell said. "They wanted to charge everybody. I said, 'I'm not showing up if you're charging people.' They said, 'What do you want?' I said, 'I want no one to be charged, good booze and good food.' "

Bidwell is unsure what exactly his retirement will be like. Of course, he'll play golf and hang out with family and friends. He'll travel with his wife Nancy and they'll spend some time with their two young grandchildren.

The rest is a mystery.

"I'll figure it out and then evaluate it after a year," said Bidwell, who turns 63 in October. "I'm not going to do any knee-jerk things. Maybe I won't like retirement. Maybe I'll have a second career as a sportswriter. ... But I think I'll be all right with it. I'm comfortable leaving now after all these years. I don't think I left too soon."

g.keefe@theday.com

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