Let me be right up front with the fact I’m not into the “shooting stars” in all walks of life.
Those are the people or things – businesses, companies, institutions, entities, etc. – that are great, but only for a short time. I acknowledge their excellence, and I respect it. It’s hard to be excellent in anything for any length of time at any point in time. So congratulations to everyone, and everything, involved.
But I’m not as interested in them as I am with those people and things exhibiting excellent over a long period of time. The longer, the better. The longer, the more I am not just impressed, but rather in total awe.
Because longer is better than shorter – and a whole lot better than just plain ol’ short.
It’s easier to be excellent for a shorter period of time, and much, much easier to be so for a short period of time, alas the comparison to being a shooting star, which comes and goes in a veritable blink, or two, of an eye.
Understanding all that, then, I introduce you to Gene Schindewolf, the longtime – really, really, really longtime – head coach of the Manchester High School boys basketball team. I am more impressed in what he’s done – and continues to do – than I can tell you.
As I write this, he has not yet compiled his 500th career victory. But it could happen any time now because he’s at 499.
When it occurs, it will be a big deal for obvious reasons, but the fact that he is on the precipice of such – and that it’s a virtual certainty that it will happen sometime soon – is enough for me. And it should be enough for anybody.
You don’t have to be a high school basketball fan, or even just a general sports fan, to appreciate what he has already done. To be successful 500 or so times over a span of nearly four decades at something that is very hard to do, is nothing short of incredible.
It’s hard to win in high school basketball. It’s even harder when you do it at a smaller public school that, over the years, has continued to get smaller. Schindewolf has done what he’s done exclusively at two small schools, having started his 39-year career by spending five seasons at Dalton and then arriving in 1985 at Manchester, where he’s spent the last 34 years.
He’s had a lot of great teams at both schools – many, many of them, in fact. But if you do this long enough, you’ll have at least a few of the other. You just will. It’s the way it is.
But even with great teams, winning is never guaranteed. These games aren’t over until they are officially over. The Panthers last year had a great team, one that, for all intents and purposes, had the district title game won. It was over.
Only it wasn’t over, and after suffering through a string of perfect storm-like bits of misfortune Schindewolf had never seen before, despite all those years of experience, the Panthers didn’t win.
So, like I said, it’s obviously very hard to win a game – just one game anytime, anywhere over any team. That Schindewolf has worked through all the bad breaks – all the victories that should have come, but didn’t -- and still recorded 500 wins, is an extraordinary feat, so much so, in fact, that, according to the Ohio High School Association’s website, has been done by only 46 coaches before in the century-long recorded history of boys high school basketball in this state.
That’s not a shooting star-like of a career. It’s the star you see every night when you look up into the sky.