NEWPORT NEWS — As it turns out, it wasn't for very long. But for a while, Ben Moore felt lost.
In order to be more financially secure and better set for retirement, Moore had taken a lead teaching position at Warwick High that forced him to resign after 24 years as the Raiders' basketball coach. Being out of the game just didn't feel right — to him, or to anyone who knew him.
"I'm going to get a little spiritual with you," said Moore, a devout Baptist. "I went to church that Sunday and I told God I had a hole, and I didn't know how to fill it. I cried, I really cried. (Basketball) was something I had been doing since I was 16 years old. I loved it."
Three days later, on a whim, Moore got in his car and drove to Virginia Wesleyan's basketball camp. Wesleyan coach Dave Macedo spotted him in the gym, called him over, and the two men chatted.
The game needs you, Macedo told him. And if you're interested, I have an assistant coaching position that has your name on it.
Just like that, eight days after getting out, Moore was back in the game.
"One of the best decisions I've ever made was asking Coach Moore to be on my staff," Macedo said. "He's worth so many intangibles.
Moore finished his prep coaching career two games under .500 (261-263), but those who know him — friends, former players, rival coaches — say that doesn't tell his true value. Moore mentored several young men from troubled backgrounds and provided a sounding board. And, many times, a way out.
"When I was little, we'd drive to downtown Newport News and actually go into the heart of what's called 'the hood,'" said Moore's son, Chris. "And he'd go get kids and make them want to do the right thing.
"I always aspired to be like my father. I don't tell him that a whole lot, but he really is my role model."
In the spring, Moore would drive players into the Carolinas to look at small college options. Whatever it takes for an education.
"It's hard to imagine somebody as close to the kids and as important in their lives as he has been," said Menchville coach Dennis Koutoufas, Moore's closest friend. "And I'm talking other than basketball."
Which brings us to Moore's day job. After spending one school year as the lead teacher in health and physical education at Warwick, he decided that wasn't for him. He now teaches health and PE at Enterprise Academy, an alternative school in Newport News for at-risk youths.
According to the academy's website, its students have been expelled or suspended from their regular school, are returning to the community from "the state department of corrections or other alternative settings," or apply on a self-referral.
In other words, kids who are headed down the wrong path and need to be redirected.
"I always wanted to be more than a coach," Moore said. "I want to be a leader and a mentor. That's why I came here. I feel needed. I feel wanted.
"You and I could say the same thing: There were things we did, and didn't caught for, that could have put us here. There are young people here who made one mistake, did one thing wrong, and they're here. I want to make sure if I can reach one, I'll do it."
His days are full. He usually arrives by 6:30 a.m. and is in the building — except for when he takes the kids to the gym at Snap Fitness — until 3 p.m. From there, he hits I-64 for the 25-mile drive to the Batten Center. He's normally home around 9.
"I love it," he said.