Scott Radeker gets it: A head basketball coach is judged on wins and losses.
The history books show Lafayette Jeff was a 5-17 team last season, yet Radeker’s impact as a coach was widely seen as a success.
The number he is most concerned about?
“All four of our seniors went to college,” Radeker said. “There’s a couple of them that when they were freshmen, if you told me they were going to go to college, I would’ve said, ‘You’re crazy.’ ”
Sometimes society gets wrapped up in the way success is determined.
When you see Broncho guard David Hanyard smile, you understand what is really important.
Hanyard is a soft-spoken sophomore who rarely offers more than a few words.
But ask him about his head coach and he turns into a chatterbox.
“He makes us better people. He’ll offer us to come to his church,” Hanyard said. “This Sunday, we’re having a Christmas party where we’ll bond as a team and play games and have dinner. It makes us more comfortable with each other. We have fun off the court and it makes us have fun on the court.”
Radeker looks the part of basketball coach. He dresses in a suit and tie on game days and a T-shirt and gym shorts every other day.
He also has a strong faith in God that things will work themselves out.
Perhaps that explains his backstory.
After college and without a plan, the New York native packed his bags for Indiana. He had some high school coaching experience and had been an instructor on the camp circuit.
To truly fulfill his passion to coach basketball, Indiana was the only place to go because he wanted to settle in a community as passionate about the sport as he was.
But basketball would have to wait upon his arrival in the Hoosier State.
Instead, Radeker’s days were spent as a substitute teacher at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis and his nights were spent as a host at Applebee’s.
Until he got his break, that is.
Pete Smith, then coaching at Noblesville, had a need for a junior varsity coach. He introduced himself to Radeker at a University of North Carolina camp.
“I loved his passion out (on the court),” Smith recalls. “The (Noblesville) community really liked him. He is a real teacher first.”
The bond strengthened as Radeker and Smith spent nights playing H-O-R-S-E in the gym. When Radeker was tight on funds, Smith found a duplex next door to his home for Radeker.
Smith left for Penn High School a year later before returning to the area in 1998 to coach Carmel. By then, Radeker’s coaching career had taken off as a staff member for Smith’s successor, Dave McCullough. Radeker became a first-time head coach at North Montgomery a few years after that.
On Saturday, Radeker will face the man who gave him his break when Smith’s Class 3A No. 1 Guerin Catholic Eagles visit Crawley Center to play Lafayette Jeff, where Radeker is in his fifth season.
“Working for Pete gave me a great start,” Radeker said. “With coach McCullough for seven years, each year he would give me more and more responsibility. Being an assistant at a big school like that really helped me to get that North Montgomery job and probably even played a little bit of a role in me getting this job here.”
Smith’s proposal to join the Millers’ staff in 1993 also came with a part-time teaching opportunity at Hazel Dell Elementary.
Radeker had it made.
Basketball had always been his passion. Coaching had always been his planned future and the two came together while Radeker was a student at Cortland State University in New York.
The local high school had an opening and Radeker realized his role with the men’s basketball team for which he was playing.
“I wanted to play, obviously, and I wasn’t getting a ton of playing time and it was probably a sign from the coach because he said, ‘Hey, there’s a local high school looking for coaches,’” Radeker recalled. “At the time, I thought, man, he knows I want to coach and he’s looking out for me.”
Radeker went the coaching route because he loved the game.
Now in his mid 40s, he’s found the job enjoyable in different capacities and winning is not necessarily the most important element of Radeker’s job.
“The No. 1 thing isn’t the basketball here. It is a byproduct of all the other things we are trying to do,” Radeker said. “The No. 1 thing is trying to get these kids on track in life and give them the skills and give them a chance when they leave here to go do something productive, just trying to have a small role in that.”
And thus his success, despite a previous losing season. Numbers are one thing, but a strong coach-player bond is incomparable.
“The basketball will take care of itself,” he said. “These kids are awesome here. If they see you care about them as an individual, they will do anything for you.”