DOVER — Bill Victory didn’t set any limits when it came to embarking on a business venture a couple of years ago.
That’s just not in the nature of the former Caesar Rodney High School teacher and girls’ basketball coach.
“You can start a business out of your home. I mean, Col. Sanders started his business (KFC) when he was 67, and look what that turned into,” said Mr. Victory, who is retired and age 69. “I’m not sure that Coach Vic’s Cakes is going to turn into that, but who knows? I’m making money, and it’s fun.”
With a little bit of nudging from his wife, Barbara, Mr. Victory opened Coach Vic’s Cakes out of the kitchen of his Dover home in August 2019. That came after he made cakes for his family and friends for around 15 years, giving most of them away to cheer people up.
“There was like four or five (different cakes), and I would make different ones, and I was always pretty good at it, but I never thought anything about it,” said Mr. Victory. “Then, I started getting more ideas about cakes that I wanted to try to make.
“I found some recipes, and there’s some recipes I kind of came up with on my own, and then, I would start giving them away to people (during) special times, like when people take them to schools or to (the hospital).”
He added, “I had just retired, and my wife said to me, ‘Last month, you gave $300 worth of cakes away.’ And she had that ‘wife’ look on her face, and she said, ‘You’ve got two options: You can either stop giving them away, or you can start selling them.’ I went and got my license the next week, and it took off.
“Most things in my life that I’ve kind of gone on and accomplished is because (of) that gentle nudge from her, and good wives do that.”
Now the menu at Coach Vic’s Cakes — which he calls “The Bucket List of Cakes” — offers more than 40 selections, from Delaware Mud to The Shaq to TNT Cake and everything in between.
“People want to know, do I make pies or cupcakes? No, I just make cakes,” Mr. Victory said. “My cakes are like nobody else’s. Everybody’s looking for what’s on their bucket list, and these cakes should be on people’s bucket lists.”
The baker does all the work out of his kitchen, which has been inspected by the state, and takes orders through his cellphone (535-9797) or by email. Coach Vic charges $20 for a 9-by-13-inch cake and $40 for a 12-by-20-inch.
After retiring as a teacher and basketball coach in 2018, he joked that he thought the next time he’d be in the newspaper was when his obituary appeared. He said, laughing, that he may be retired, but he is staying plenty busy.
“For holidays, like last Thanksgiving, I made 26 cakes in three days,” said Mr. Victory. “But so far, we haven’t got to the point where it’s work. I still love doing it, I’m still good at it, and sometimes, I’ll take one to people who might need a pick-me-up or things like that. So I give some away, but then I make some and sell to kind of keep it going.
“I work six days a week — I don’t work on Sundays — but six days a week, I’m usually baking. Usually, it doesn’t take me all day. It’s usually just part of the day, and then, I spend time either delivering or having people picking (the cakes) up.”
Many say that if a person is doing something they truly love, then they really never have to work. And that’s what the former coach is doing now.
“I enjoy my retirement a lot because everything I do in my retirement is the things that I want to do,” he said. “Some people want to give me a job, (but) I don’t want a job. I like my freedom to go and serve and to minister to people on my own. That frees me.
“As a teacher and a coach, I had all that socialization, but now, my socialization comes from being active in the community, either because of the cakes or because of (my) church or because of coaching connections. I like it like this, and I enjoy my life every day.”
Just don’t ask Mr. Victory if he has a favorite cake in his vast lineup of sweet treats.
“It’s like my children and grandchildren,” he said. “I have 19 grandchildren, and if you ask me which one is my personal favorite, well, I don’t have one. Each cake is unique to itself. If you see the list, there’s a lot of cakes — there’s some that are similar — but there’s a lot of cakes that are very unique to themselves, and it just depends on what day it is.
“I use the Honeybun Cake if I’m going to try to engage a business, like a doctor’s office or something like that. That’s the cake that I take always because there’s nothing not to like about it. It’s brown sugar and cinnamon, and it’s a great cake.”
Retirement seems a long way from his 26 seasons at the helm of the Caesar Rodney girls’ basketball team, which was a perennial Henlopen Conference and state tournament contender during his tenure. But he admits he still uses his old hoops connections when needed.
“The name of the company is Coach Vic’s Cakes, so my connection from a coaching part of it (is) there’s a lot of people I know (who) either I’ve coached against or coaches that I have coached with or players that have played for me that are now teaching or coaching,” said Mr. Victory. “That network has been a big plug into the community.
“Between that and my church connection, being a church leader, I’m connected in the community that way, so I feel like between the coaching and church, the cakes were a natural fit.”
And behind it all, bonds with family and friends remain as important as ever — like when his son, Frank Victory, and former player, Tameka Williams, served for many years as his assistant coaches.
Frank Victory is now the head coach for boys’ basketball at CR, while Ms. Williams leads the girls’ team.
“To have someone stay and coach with me for 21 years (and) turn around and now be the head coaches — what they’ve learned, they’re still teaching that same stuff, and they’re being successful because what we did was good stuff, and they’re good, quality people,” Mr. Victory said.
“It was the experience of me coaching kids and making a difference in their lives. It’s not about the wins or the losses. It’s not about the trophies or the awards. It’s got nothing to do with that. It’s those relationships that you help them to redirect to someplace better than they were going.”
Eventually, he said he might like to have a couple of assistants at his cake business — but they have to first pass muster, like his son and Ms. Williams did several years ago.
“People hear about it, and they want to be a part of it, but it’s kind of like my coaching staff,” he said. “When I was coaching back at Caesar Rodney, I was very selective about who coached with me. They had to be, first, a high-quality person, and they needed to know what they’re talking about.
“After having a conversation with somebody for 10 minutes, you can tell if they know what they’re talking about or if they’re a good, quality person. Right now, I haven’t found that person yet, so I’m rowing the boat by myself.”
Mr. Victory said there have been numerous people who have greatly influenced him during his life, but none more so than a coach he played for in his youth.
“I had a coach who coached me at Dover Air (Force Base High School). He was my basketball and football coach, and his name was Baxter Weber,” he said. “He was a phenomenal man — one of the top five men I’ve ever known in my life. He died of Parkinson’s disease when he was 85.
“He said to me something when I was a kid. He said, ‘Vic, you’ll never be able to repay us for what we’ve done for you, but you can always pass it on.’ And I’ve always tried to do that.”