Jack Butcher, Howard Sharpe and Bill Stearman.
All Indiana legends, those are the only names above Pat Rady on the state’s career victory list for boys high school basketball coaches, although Rady tries to avoid talking about passing them.
Beginning his 48th season as a head coach and eighth season at Cloverdale, the 70-year-old Rady prefers focusing on the present and future more than numbers he accumulated in the past at Bainbridge, Winchester, Southmont, Shelbyville, Terre Haute South and Cloverdale.
With 711 wins under his belt after the Clovers finished 11-11 last season, Rady needs three to tie and four to pass Stearman (714) for No. 3 on the list and 13 to tie and 14 to pass Sharpe (724) for No. 2. Butcher, who retired at Loogootee in 2002, sits on top at 806.
Getting ready to run practice Wednesday afternoon, Rady understood why I brought up the possibility of him climbing the ladder. But most of his comments concerned his current team, which includes seniors Mitch Williams, Joe Fidler and Chuck Strunk along with one junior and at least three promising sophomores.
The Clovers’ first game will be Tuesday at North Central.
“I’m excited about the team we’ve got this year,” Rady emphasized. “I always take pleasure in watching a player improve and watching a group come together as a team.
“Before the year’s over, I think we’ll be competitive, but we may have some tough times early on … We are going to be fun to watch.”
“Fun” is the key word here and that’s what keeps Rady going after all these years.
“I love the game and I always have,” he explained. “This [coaching] is still as much fun as when I first started.”
Although Rady doesn’t want to look beyond this season, he figures he’ll take it “year by year” when making decisions about whether to continue coaching or retire. Regardless of what he chooses, he knows he’ll have the support of his wife Margaret and sons Patrick and Michael, whom he appreciates for all the personal sacrifices they’ve made during his career.
Patrick Rady, who worked as a part-time sportswriter here at the Tribune-Star in the 1980s, is again serving as a varsity assistant to his father at Cloverdale this season. Another familiar name, former Indiana State player Greg Thomas, is the Clovers’ junior varsity coach.
Pat Rady, who still substitute teaches at the high school and middle school in Cloverdale when needed, doesn’t avoid the past so much that he discourages contact from his former players and former coaches. On the contrary, he enjoys reminiscing about his times at all of the above-mentioned high schools.
That includes South, where he left in 2004, enabling longtime assistant Mike Saylor to become head coach. Saylor stepped down after the 2010-11 season and Rady understands why Saylor would want to do that in his early 50s.
“It’s become so demanding,” Rady said of coaching at the high school level. “It’s such a year-round thing and it’s so hard to spend time with your family.”
Still a Terre Haute resident, Rady insists that he frequently checks the Tribune-Star for South scores on the days after its games.
Yes, he specifically mentioned the Tribune-Star. I knew there was a reason I always liked him (insert “wink” symbol here).
• Better late than never — This was announced by the IHSAA earlier this month, but it’s still worth reporting: Mike Stoffers of Terre Haute was recipient of the 2011 Interscholastic Athletic Officials Association Award for excellence in the sport of volleyball.
According to its website, the IHSAA — in cooperation with the National Federation of Interscholastic Officials Association — recognizes and honors an outstanding official in each of 11 sports each year.
During his career, Stoffers has worked 13 sectionals, 10 regionals, three semistates and two state finals.
Stoffers was selected for this honor by a committee representing the officials associations, according to the IHSAA announcement. In Indiana, there are 24 associations made up of men and women who assist in providing activities for the student-athletes in our state. There are more than 8,000 officials licensed by the IHSAA in 11 sports.
A licensed referee for 16 years, Stoffers is a member of the Wabash Valley Officials Association, He also is a licensed football, track and basketball official.
Stoffers is a 1977 graduate of Terre Haute South High School (hey, so was I) and a 1979 graduate of Vincennes University, where he earned a degree in horticulture.
Good job, Mike.
David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.