Longtime high school basketball coach Tom Kontak turned a sweet 100 on January 19 and it wasn't even his birthday.
In reality, Coach TK's birthday isn't until September 28, and even then he'll only become a still-spry 51. But that didn't stop his Oak Harbor Lady Rockets from throwing him one heck of a party last weekend he's not likely to soon forget.
The Rockets dismantled Sandusky Bay Conference rival Huron (4-11, 3-6 SBC) 48-32 at Oak Harbor High School to gift their new coach with his 100th win.
|Oak Harbor girls pose with a picture collage, Rebecca and Art Eli prepared for
Tom Kontak's 100th career victory.
(Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)
"To have 100 wins in just six-and-a-half seasons, it's special," meditates TK.
Kontak’s resume tells of coaching stops at Bowling Green (baseball), Cardinal Stritch (baseball), Central Catholic (girls junior varsity hoops), and Genoa, the latter of which helped put both Lady Comets' basketball and softball on the Suburban Lakes League map through all of the success his teams enjoyed there in seven years (six as basketball coach).
“I would also add that my win total is merely a byproduct of all the particular journeys I've taken with all of the particular teams quite frankly," adds Kontak. "One hundred wins simply means I've just always been surrounded by talented players and committed coaches. I just try to bring leadership. That's my role.
"Really, I had put no emphasis on it going into the (Huron) game," he says, "but my coaches, Art Eli, Johnny Kontak, and Mark Boukissen were especially pumped up about it. They brought it to my attention a week prior and as the clock was winding down in the game, Art started talking about 100 wins. Also, he and his wife Rebecca made a picture collage, and my wife, Lynne, had a couple of cookie cakes for all of us. OHHS athletic director Drew Grahl presented me with the game ball, and to have my son Johnny there beside me was special, too. But really, the focus of that game was to get the team win No. 6 in the SBC."
Coaches Kontak Eli, Kontak, and Boukissen have seen the up-and-coming Lady Rockets realize their predetermined goal of at least six wins in the SBC.with about a month or so to go in the campaign. They have allowed the team to double their league wins output from a year ago. In 2011-12, the Rockets finished 3-11 in SBC play, and 7-14 overall.
Heading into the weekend, Oak Harbor was sitting at 9-5 overall and 6-4 in the SBC, and exceeding all preseason expectations by holding down fourth place in the conference, when they were tabbed to finish no higher than sixth.
To Kontak’s assistant coaches and former players, all of this comes as no surprise.
Coach TK, along with Eli and Chris Rawski, were the architects of the Genoa basketball program when they were winning SLL championships from 2006-08 and putting up a combined 91-44 record, 61 SLL wins, three SLL runners-up, four sectional championships, 24 All-SLL players, four All-Ohio players; and two Division I college players.
On the GHS softball field from 2003-10, the Comets were an overall 167-52 and won back-to-back league championships in '06 and '07.
For Kontak, whether he's winning or losing, it's just another day working with his present-day Oak Harbor team.
“This group of young ladies has taken me and my coaches in from day one and as the season has progressed, goals have materialized in playing hard and in playing for the name on the front of the uniform rather than for the name on the back," interjects Kontak.
“Our SBC goal has been reached already, but I would like perhaps for our seniors to be able to leave after this season having doubled both of their win totals from last season," he says. "That would be exciting for the legacy of this group. That's the only stress I ever feel. For this team and for the players and for the game we are preparing for now. Easily, the championships won by any of my teams and their success rank heads-and-shoulders above 100 wins. The teams always come before any individual awards. Always."