A few days after Loyalsock’s basketball team achieved win number 900 for veteran coach Ron Insinger, the coaching legend was kind enough to sit down and share his thoughts on what it all means to him.
“Believe it or not I can vividly remember each one from 100 on through. Reaching a lofty goal is the self-satisfying factor for me. I set goals for myself all the time, some I reach and some I do not reach. This is a goal I set when we got to 800 wins. There was a part of me that said ‘just walk away’ after the state record was achieved. But then there was another part of me that said, ‘I’m still loving it’. I still have the enthusiasm and excitement to go to practice day in and day out, why walk away now?
“I’ve never given it a whole lot of thought about where I stand regarding the win total. I just kind of take it year by year. That’s what I am doing right now. People talk about 1,000 wins. They don’t realize how many wins that is. You know, 100 wins is a heck of a lot of wins. That doesn’t happen in one season or two seasons. Coaching hasn’t become a job to me yet. As long as that continues to be the case and I’m still having fun I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and try to put 110% into what we are doing.”
Loyalsock’s talent pipeline has not come by accident.
“We have an excellent feeder system with solid, great coaches. That is the formula. Start them young, and let the kids develop their passion for the game. We don’t put much emphasis on winning up until the ninth grade. I think that is a good factor to work in because the kids never lose the passion and it seems to get better and better because we don’t place the emphasis on winning. We don’t have scoreboards turned on during our Little Sock elementary program, and no one really cares who wins or loses. It is just learning the fundamentals of the game. That stability that we have had over the years is certainly a blessing along with quality coaches. When you put all that together by the time they get to me, they are pretty much a polished product.”
How has the game changed?
“The game is faster now than when I began coaching. I think that shooting is a lost art. I can remember seasons when we had several games when we scored over 100 points. That is unheard of nowadays. You don’t have the kids on the playgrounds working day in and day out like they used to. That is part of the change, and I think there is more emphasis on defense now to a certain point. Also, many student-athletes today are now specializing in a single sport at a much younger age because of the AAU, and the elite teams, and so on. That has cut down on the versatility of an athlete. I’m all about players playing two or three sports. I think each one compliments the next one.
“We are not seeing that as much, although my team this year has a lot of players who play multiple sports. Some of my best teams have been comprised of multi-sport athletes. There is a growing trend today that favors the three-point shot. Today there is a trend to penetrate and kick out for the three-point shot. I’m not all about that. Sometimes it destroys the game and leads to lower scoring games because the shooting percentage from that range is not that great.
“I don’t think the kids have changed much over the years. I think the parents have changed a lot, and therein presents a problem. Kids are kids, the same as they have been many years ago and they all want to win. And they all want to be the best. Sometimes it doesn’t happen because of things that go on outside coach’s jurisdiction.”
The CI moniker.
“At first the nickname came about because kids found Insinger too hard to say. My second year at Loyalsock, Pat Conroy started it. That was in the mid-70s, and I was somewhat concerned about the disrespect about a coach being addressed by two letters. But now I have a lot of pride in it. My coaching fraternity, everyone knows me as CI. In fact, I had one of my own students call me Charles. He had no idea what my name was. He thought the C stood for Charles. Anyway, now I am very proud to have that nickname, and hopefully, it will stick around for a few more years.”
“I’d really like to win a state championship. I know that is an awfully lofty goal and is something that has evaded us. It is not even a realistic goal. If we do get to states in the first or second round, we’ll have to go up against a Neumann-Goretti or Conway Egan or someone that has kids from out-of-state. Those teams are made up of blue-chip Division One players. It is not a level playing ground, but still, that is in the back of my head. I don’t know that will ever happen. Our feeder system is strong, but we can’t compete against all-star teams. But we are going to keep plugging along, and hopefully, someday that will happen.”
As our conversation ended with a handshake, I said, “With God’s speed maybe in a few years we can sit here and talk about 1,000.”
“That would be sweet, Scott,” CI responded.