Honoring a Legend

Grossmont College says goodbye to long-time coach Bill Gillespie.

Nathan Kitchen

This past March, Grossmont College lost a legend. 

Bill Gillespie, an instructor and coach for more than 50 years, passed away in his early 80s. No cause of death was given. 

Gillespie began working at Grossmont College in 1965 as the new campus’s first intercollegiate head basketball coach and exercise science instructor. He taught most recently as an adjunct instructor in 2019.

In his humble beginnings, Gillespie was hard-working in his teens and early 20s, balancing out school and sports. He worked his way through college at San Diego State University as one of their star basketball players while supporting his family in San Bernardino, California.

He was a true role model for students, colleagues and our campus

— Marsha Gable, Interim College President

Gillespie began his teaching and coaching journey at Monte Vista High School in Spring Valley where he also assumed a role as the head basketball coach. His teachings led Monte Vista High School to quickly rise in the ranks of high school basketball, culminating in the team winning a league championship. After winning the league title, Gillespie moved on to Grossmont College, where his legend would grow even bigger.  

Gillespie brought success to Grossmont’s athletic department, later serving as athletic director and founding the men’s volleyball and women’s badminton programs. His success reached all the way to 2018, when he coached badminton player Yukari Naono to the state championships.

State championship competitor Huyen Lam jokes with Head Coach Bill Gillespie at a 2019 match. (Sharisse Cohee)

In an email, Grossmont’s Interim President Marsha Gable wrote: “Bill’s love of teaching and coaching never diminished during his career – which may be the longest of any faculty member on campus. He enjoyed working at Grossmont College, calling it the ‘place to be’ to interact with the community and to help make society better.”

Gable added that Gillespie “championed the everyman and focused most on students in need – the quiet, the humble, the less skilled,” reaching out to everyone.

“He was a true role model for students, colleagues and our campus,” she wrote.

Gillespie is survived by his family, which includes his son, Robert Gillespie, a full-time Computer Science and Information Systems instructor at Grossmont College.

Due to COVID-19, his family held a private memorial service.