For Bobby Dobson and Tony Bentley, being on the same bench again as basketball coaches for the first time since 2002 was like old times, but with a few differences.
The two shared the bench for a few weeks during the spring and summer AAU season leading the Team Prolook 17-under boys squad, which included players for Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools in Arlington and from other Northern Virginia schools. Bentley was the head coach and Dobson the assistant.
“That was the happiest I’ve ever been coaching AAU ball having Bobby on the bench again,” Bentley said. “I didn’t care if we won a game. It was just so good to be back together like that.”
During the winter high-school campaign, each are boys high-school head varsity coaches on rival opposite benches – Dobson leading the Washington-Liberty Generals and Bentley the Wakefield Warriors. The teams meet at least a couple of times during the season.
Each has won more than 300 games as a high-school head coach.
Before Bentley became the Wakefield coach some 20 years ago, he was an assistant under Dobson at W-L for multiple seasons where they shared the same bench.
The good friends decided to coach together again to oversee some of their players and to enjoy the experience.
“It was a great experience, a lot of fun for both of us and brought back a lot of great memories,” Dobson said. “Tony was the head coach, and he would ask my opinion on things.”
As head coaches often do, they often asked their assistant, sometimes abruptly, to hand them a clipboard during timeouts and team huddles. Dobson said that took some getting used to, because that was a role-reversal. Bentley used to do the same for Dobson as his assistant on the W-L bench.
“I kind of yelled at Bobby once to ‘get my board’ and right away I knew I was in trouble for doing that,” Bentley said. “That’s Bobby Dobson, why am I doing that? I felt like a son yelling at his dad.”
Bentley said the two later chuckled about the encounter.
Out of habit, the two coaches tended to stand up on the sideline at the same time to give instructions to players or chat with an official.
“Referees would tell us only one can stand up at a time, so that was an adjustment, too,” Dobson said.
Bentley hopes Dobson returns to the AAU bench next season, but isn’t sure he will. Dobson had not yet made a decision either.
“I told Bobby he’s under a contract for two years to coach with me,” Bentley kidded. “But Bobby said he’ll talk to his lawyer about how to get out of that contract.”