To reach 500 wins is impressive, but to win multiple state titles in boys soccer is in another category altogether.
How about 12 state championships during a 25-year span for Blacksburg High School’s Coach Shelley Blumenthal? Wednesday night, he picked up his 500th win over Northside.
Earlier the school unveiled a sign renaming the bus route between the middle and high school’s as “Blumenthal Byway.”
“To be honored in such a way is a bit overwhelming and flattering,” Blumenthal said.
The longtime coach was recognized during a pep rally last week where the student body also honored Blumenthal’s brother, who had passed in March after being diagnosed with Cardiac Amyloidosis.
He had recently undergone two rounds of chemotherapy and had visited the doctor March 2 to be sure his heart was strong enough to begin stem cell irrigation and a subsequent bone marrow transplant.
Due to an unrelated liver and kidney complication, his brother was admitted to the hospital. He improved and left the hospital on March 8 and was admitted to a rehab facility with the intent of increasing his strength in preparation for the remaining procedures in his treatment.
“We had the best phone conversation that evening with his enthusiasm for recovery at its highest since the diagnosis. My sister called me at 6:20 a.m. the next morning to inform me Steve had died of a heart attack a few hours earlier,” Blumenthal said.
The Blacksburg High School community raised $2,500 for the Amyloidosis Foundation in Steve’s memory and presented Blumenthal with the check at the start of the pep rally last Friday.
Following the check presentation, Blumenthal was surprised with the street sign, naming the bus route behind Blacksburg Middle School after him.
“To be able to have coached for more than 25 years with so many outstanding young people and teams and represent such an extraordinary school and athletic program is an honor in and of itself. Yesterday’s announcement was a complete surprise, and I am humbled by this recognition,” he said.
“Success” could also be Blumenthal’s middle name as he is completing his 25th season that has included several state, region and district crowns.
The tale of the tape is something to brag about and also something that causes fear in opponents: state championships in 1989, 1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2013; state runner ups in 1990, 1992, 2001, 2003, 2006 and, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017; Region IV titles in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Region III titles in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007; River Ridge DIstrict regular season and tournament championships in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; Blue Ridge District regular season and tournament championships in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002; and New River District regular season titles in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996.
The team finished as last year’s state runner up, their fourth straight. This year, they jump to the 4A classification where opponents are not used to seeing the boys in blue.
The Bruins have won at least 18 games every season since Shelly Blumenthal’s second year and 20 for the past four.
“Yes, we have been consistent for a long, long time. I think soccer has gotten more popular everywhere and that has helped. But, really, it’s a tradition here at Blacksburg High School,” he said.
But Blumenthal is humble in so many ways and has never taken credit for the success.
“It’s not been me. I have had a great group of kids every year and have managed to keep my entire coaching staff together for a very long time,” he said.
The longtime soccer coach loves the game and teaching youngsters how to play it correctly, and he said this week the word “retirement” is not in his vocabulary and not anytime soon.
“I have no plans to retire and continue to be excited about each new team and season,” he said.
So, opponents will have to deal with Blumenthal as he works towards another 100 wins and more additions to the trophy case.