When the Rock Bridge boys’ basketball team won its first game last season, it was more than a successful beginning to their year.
For coach Jim Scanlon the victory marked his 500th career win, a key factor in earning a spot in the Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I’m humbled,” Scanlon said. “There are so many who deserve this and so many to pick from. It’s a great honor.”
Scanlon, along with Jerry Boekman of Vianney High School, Kevin Nichols of Cammeron, Jerry Grim of Notre Dame, Gary Wacker of St. Charles and Dave Loos of Mehlville will be inducted today in Springfield.
Rock Bridge principal Kathy Ritter said it’s Scanlon’s commitment to coaching that makes him so deserving of the honor.
“He’s dedicated his life to coaching basketball,” she said. “His adult life has been coaching kids and this honor makes us proud.”
Rock Bridge athletic director Steve Levingston agrees and said Scanlon is extremely deserving.
“This is one of the most highly recognized honors in the sport, and Jim is extremely committed,” he said. “He consistently produces quality basketball teams.”
Scanlon’s 19-season career at Rock Bridge includes numerous winning seasons as well as No. 1 rankings for the
2006 and 2007 teams for several weeks. His 2007 team was ranked in the top 10 the entire season.
His career also featured stays at North Harrison High School in Eagleville, J.C. Penney High School in Hamilton and Benton High School in St. Joseph, and he has 12 district titles and three third-place finishes in state tournaments.
Scanlon said it is exciting to be honored, but the 500 wins doesn’t mean as much to him as his coaching.
“You know, I almost forgot that we won 500 until someone told me,” he said. “Nothing changes. We will still start next year trying to make the best basketball team we can.”
According to Levingston, Scanlon’s traditional approach to coaching contributes to his success.
“Jim has high expectations,” he said. “He pushes his kids hard and they play hard. He teaches them that.”
But Scanlon said the honor is not because of only his efforts. He said many people are responible for the team’s success, including his assistant coaches.
“We have a good combination between working hard and quality characters,” he said. “This isn’t all because of me.”
Scanlon has decided to coach athletes at the high school level rather than the collegiate level because he wants to stay close to his family.
“I’ve been able to coach my sons, which is important to me,” he said. “I won’t do college because I’d be away from my kids too much, and I don’t want to do that.”