He has coached 300 winning boys’ basketball games.
Actually, North has coached 301 winning games as the Wolverines went on the win their game and the tournament on day two of the Winter Classic as well.
“Not only is it really neat, it just tells you you’ve been doing it a long time,” North said of recording his 300th win. “In my case I’ve had some pretty good kids to help me get to that point too.”
While the achievement was not announced to the crowd at either game, it will be at the Wolverines’ next home game on Monday, Dec. 2 when Westfield takes on North’s alma matter, Forestville.
“It’s a great honor for us,” Westfield Athletic Director Jake Hitchcock said of North’s 300th win. “It’s something that’s very difficult to do especially in today’s age. … He’s done a super job with that program, which is obvious, in order to obtain the 300 wins.”
Hitchcock actually had order the plaque commemorating North’s 300th victory last year with the anticipation he would reach the mark before the end of the season. However, as it turned out, the 2010-11 season ended with North at 299. So Hitchcock had to wait until after the Dec. 9 win so that the date of the milestone could be recorded.
“On behalf of the district we’re very proud to have him in many capacities, but especially as our boys’ basketball coach,” Hitchcock said. “We are very proud as a district of the job that he’s been able to do over the past 25 years.”
What made the 300th win even more special for North was his son Trey, a senior at Westfield Academy and Central School and a member of the boys’ varsity basketball team, was a part of it.
“Getting my 300th with him was really neat, to have him a part of that and … be part of the reason that I did get my 300th win,” North said. “That one was a lot of fun. That one will be hard to forget.”
North began his varsity boy’s basketball coaching career 25 years ago after one year coaching Forestville’s jayvee boys’ team — under his high school coach Tom Herring — and one year coaching Westfield’s jayvee boys’ team. In addition, North has spent time coaching just about every other sport high schools offer — football, volleyball, track, softball and baseball.
“I’ve coached about everything there is,” North said. “Basketball is my favorite. It always has been.”
A former basketball player himself, North credits Herring with influencing him to be a physical education teacher and coach. And years after making that choice, North has accomplished something very few others in the area have. In fact, Hitchcock and North could only think of two others — Mel Swanson and Frank Wasylink both of Sherman have achieved 400 wins in their careers.
However, for North the wins are not as important as making it to Sectionals at the end of the season with a chance to win that title. So far, he has brought the Wolverines to three Sectional title games. The first was in 1990-91 when the team actually made it to the Far West Regionals where it fell to Pratburg. The second was in 1999-2000 when the team was the Class C2 champions, but lost the Sectional game to the eventual state champions. The third was in 2002-03 when the Wolverines were again Class C2 champions, but it ran into City Honors and was eliminated.
In fact, one of the most memorable wins for North was when his team had to play Randolph in the 1999-2000 playoffs. It was the third time Westfield had faced off against Randolph that season and the Cardinals had a player who had scored around 40 points in the previous two matchups. However, the Wolverines were able to hold him to a mere 12 points in the finals and won as the underdog team.
“I’ll never forget that one, that’s a huge one,” North said.
Overall, North remains humble about his success and longevity at Westfield, giving credit to his players and the length of time he has been coaching more than to himself.
“To me it just means we’ve had successful programs here for a number of years,” North said. “In order to get wins, you have to have good kids who are willing to listen and buy into your program. I’ve had a number of really good kids here who like to play basketball and play it my way. … When you have success, kids want to be part of that success.”
While it might not be a goal he has set for himself, 400 wins is not out of the realm of possibilities for North. If the Wolverines can get 12 to 15 wins over the next seven to eight years, it could happen.
“Hopefully I’ll be around long enough,” North said.
A coach who has kept the scorebook from every season he has coached, North is just happy being around sports and finds hearing from old players who credit him with the reason they have gone on into coaching themselves, similar to what Herring did for North, a rewarding part of his job.
“I’ve always been competitive in sports and love sports, so to be around it for me is the ideal job,” North said. “If you can touch one or two kids to get them to go do something like teaching and coaching, I think that’s really rewarding. That’s why I am where I am today.”
As to why he continues to coach, its “just for the love of coaching. To me, each season I look forward to the next one.”
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Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Westfield boys’ varsity basketball coach Bob North, left, receives a plaque commemorating his 300th win from Westfield Athletic Director Jake Hitchcock. North recorded his milestone victory on Dec. 9, the first day of the Westfield Winter Classic tournament.