The baby faced assassin. He appears to be the neighborhood dad, the guy next door, and the guy you want to know. And then he starts coaching, and you realize that he is authentic in his ways, and you begin to lean in. You begin to look closer, and it becomes clearer. He is that dude. He is that guy. You would trust him with your name and your kids because he has learned to trust them with his. His value system is noticeable in that he gives proper weight to his name and yours. He understands that they both matter, and that he must be trustworthy to gain their trust, and yours. And he does.
Coach Bentley is the product of a loving family, a tight knit community, and a sports circle of successful friends and associates who all have enough trust in him that they are not only connected, but they stay connected because something good is going on around him. Something good is coming because of him. Something good is coming from him. And he makes you care. You want to be around when those good things happen. You must. And, they never leave his circle. They are loyal. He is loyal.
Arlington County is a unique place. Diverse and unified, while still functioning within separate and different communities. Coach Bentley is a product of South Arlington’s Green Valley (Nauck if you must), and North Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School. And somehow, he has taken those two different worlds and created a culture at a Wakefield High School Basketball Program that includes anyone willing to trust in him, and him in them. Anyone willing to care enough about their name and his to do their best, for one another. For the school, program, community, family, and self. The program is special. The community is special. The result is special. It starts with its leaders. Coach Bentley is a leader.
Coach Bentley is humble. He will say (rightfully so) that he is blessed with great kids, great support from his wife, his family, his school, his community, and his amazing, experienced staff. All true. But there are coaches who also get those things and do not have the impact that Tony does. Tony is the energy source that moves the program. And its through him that the program gets light. It starts with him.
I call him the baby faced assassin. He smiles as he prowls the basketball sidelines. He smiles because he knows that he has honored this thing the right way. And in that, something good is coming. Something good is why he does it. And in that, he knows that he can smile. All of those in his circle have already won. Family. Community. School. Program. Friends. They have all won.