Jim Drake says he’s retiring after 31 years with Warriors basketball programWINNER — The stories Sam Goodhope articulates about his high school basketball coach are spoken carefully and clearly.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
WINNER — The stories Sam Goodhope articulates about his high school basketball coach are spoken carefully and clearly.
Goodhope, Winner High School’s 1986 Hansen-Anderson South Dakota Mr. Basketball award winner, does everything he can to precisely explain his respect for Jim Drake, who spent 31 years teaching and coaching at the school.
“Nothing I tell you about Jim Drake truly expresses my admiration for him,” said Goodhope, now an attorney in Sioux Falls. “I had parents who didn’t really know that much about basketball. He got me a college scholarship.”
After more than three decades working with students and athletes in Winner, Drake has quietly acknowledged to those who ask that he is retiring. Earlier this year, Drake submitted his retirement papers to the Winner School District. His last game with the Warriors came on Feb. 28 in the District 13A championship, a contest his team lost 49-37 to St. Francis Indian.
Despite requests for an in-depth interview about his career for this story, Drake declined to discuss his retirement. He didn’t want to forget any memories or leave anyone out he’d like to recognize.
“If I had it my way, I would just go out the door at the end of the year and not say a word,” Drake said. “But you have to go through the process and have it done in January.”
Instead, he submitted a statement to The Daily Republic via email about his long coaching tenure.
“After 31 years in the Winner School District as a teacher and coach, I would like to thank our assistant coaches, players and fans,” Drake wrote. “We are real proud of our Winner Warrior student-athletes. Teaching and coaching can be real tough at times, but developing relationships with students and athletes is extremely rewarding.”
Goodhope, who was a 6-foot-4 guard for the Warriors who went on to play four years at the University of South Dakota, chuckled when he heard Drake declined an interview. He wasn’t surprised one bit that Drake didn’t want talk about himself.
“The guy will deflect attention any way he can,” Goodhope said. “He won’t answer any questions about himself. Most people want to talk about themselves, but Jim is just the opposite. I cannot say enough about what a class individual he is. In reality, Winner basketball is really Jim Drake.”
Drake finished his career with 420 career wins, 17th all-time in boys’ high school basketball rankings. He won four region championships, with four state tournament berths, 11 district titles and nine South Dakota region coach of the year awards. He was also named the region athletic director of the year and was a two-time national basketball coach of the year finalist.
Although the Warriors didn’t qualify for state this year, Drake’s team finished with a winning record. Winner went 11-9 this year, one of Drake’s 26 winning seasons. His team also qualified for the state tournament in three of his final four years. His highest placing at state was fifth, a feat his team accomplished in 2001 and 2010.
Zach Horstman, a 2011 Winner graduate who won the Hansen-Anderson Mr. Basketball award in his senior year, started playing varsity for Drake as an eighth-grader. He finished his career as the school’s career points, rebounds and steals leader and was a three-time all-state selection and four-year starter. Horstman now plays for the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits.
“I always wanted to play well for him,” Horstman said. “The biggest thing he stresses is character and hard work. If you put that in for him, he’ll put in everything he has for you. He just hates to lose and loves the game.”
Winner Activities Director Dan Aaker, who’s coached the school to two state football championships in the past four years, said Drake “just felt the time was right” to retire. Aaker said the position is currently open and the school is taking applications for the job. He added Superintendent Bruce Carrier is handling the hiring process.
Aaker said Drake was instrumental in building a strong boys’ basketball program in a town that’s normally known for high school football.
“When you can commit to one program for 31 years, that speaks for itself,” Aaker said. “The success he’s had is pretty impressive.”