Bill Resler coached the Roughrider girls for nine seasons, compiling a 187-51 record highlighted by a 55-52 victory over heavily favored Garfield in the 2004 Class 4A state championship game.
Bill Resler will be remembered for his lessons and his laughter.
The former Roosevelt High School girls basketball coach, who was also a renowned tax lecturer at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, died Saturday at the Swedish Cherry Hill Campus after contracting a viral brain infection, according to daughter Vanessa Resler. He was 71.
Resler coached the Roughrider girls for nine seasons, compiling a 187-51 record highlighted by a 55-52 victory over heavily favored Garfield in the 2004 Class 4A state championship game. He and his team were the focus of an award-winning documentary, “The Heart of the Game,” and he co-authored the book “The Heart of the Team” with Casey McNerthney.
“He always gave his girls and the game his very best,” said Joyce Walker, a legendary former player who was the Garfield coach at the time. “I’ll never forget our intense competition on the court and our mutual respect off.”
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Resler is survived by his three daughters, Vanessa, Alexa and Jessica, and two grandchildren.
“The thing that made him who he was, in my opinion, was his sense of humor,” Vanessa wrote in an email. “I will always remember him as being so smart and so funny. He loved to mess with people and make them smile. He loved bridge, fantasy football, hanging with his friends at The Duchess, and above all teaching … or just passing along life advice. It was what he was born to do.”
Meghan Miller, a 2001 Roosevelt graduate who began playing for Resler’s AAU team in the fifth grade, agreed.
“Bill was a really eccentric guy, a controversial guy, but also someone who cared about players, cared about empowering those around him and giving them tools to succeed, not just in basketball, because at the end of the day it’s so much more about life for him than it was about the game,” said Miller, who won 12 varsity letters at Roosevelt and went on to play soccer at Kansas. “He would teach us X’s and O’s, but really it was about the X’s and O’s of life.”
Resler was fired by Roosevelt administrators three days before the start of the 2007 season, told only that the school wanted “to go a different direction.”
“He was a great teacher and a great motivator,” said Bryan Willison, who was Resler’s assistant during his Roosevelt stint. “And he liked to have a good time.”
Sam Lee, former Juanita coach, knew Resler for 20 years.
“Bill cared most about his players and teams, always with humility and humor,” Lee said.
Laughter often spewed from his lectures.
“His exams were storied,” said former UW student Mike Meeks, who now owns his own tax practice in Edmonds.
Resler would create characters to create problems — like Bertha Boomer, who sold a rental property.
“My laughter was on the characters and what he had them do in a tax transaction,” Meeks said. “You forgot about the problem until the last 10 minutes of the exam. I know I was not alone.”
Resler and good friend Steve Rice co-founded the Foster School’s highly successful Master of Professional Accounting in Taxation program. He was a skilled bridge player and the commissioner of a longtime fantasy football league.
Vanessa Resler said details are being finalized for a public memorial service Feb. 18 on the UW campus.