DeLaTorre reaches coaching milestone

Friday, February 19, 2016
Submitted photo Fort Scott High School Head Boys' Basketball Coach Jeff DeLaTorre, center, gives pointers to players mid-game against Harrison, Ark. Dec. 3, 2015 during the Willard Tournament in Willard, Mo.

More than 20 years as a coach hasn't slowed the wins for Fort Scott High School Head Boys' Basketball Coach Jeff DeLaTorre. Already FSHS' winningest coach, DeLaToree recently added his 300th win to his record.

The win came on Friday, Feb. 5, against Parsons at FSHS.

Of his 300 wins, about 250 of those have been racked up with the Tigers. Before Fort Scott, he coached five seasons at Yates Center High School in Yates Center, from the 1995-96 season to the 1999-2000 season.

"As I got closer this year, I noticed I was eight short of 300," DeLaTorre said. "I didn't see it as a goal but I was really hoping I'd be able to get it this year with this group of kids. To share it with (his son, Kaleb)."

DeLaTorre's passion for sports started at a young age and carried on into higher levels of education, leading to a lifelong career.

Over the years, DeLaTorre played basketball, baseball, tennis, and a "little bit of football," he said.

"Growing up, I was very involved in athletics," DeLaTorre said. "Whatever time of the year it was, I was playing something. That was something I enjoyed."

That passion transformed into a career as a coach, he said.

"I knew I wasn't going to play anything beyond college," DeLaTorre said. "I enjoyed working with kids. It gave me a chance to show youth how important sports are. There's so many positives coming out of working with the kids and getting to know them."

Those who work with DeLaTorre see the difference he makes in those with whom he works.

"Jeff has proven himself as one of the leading coaches in the state of Kansas," Fort Scott High School Activities Director Larry Fink said. "He is also an excellent USD 234 administrator."

Fink has worked with DeLaTorre for 10 years. In those years, DeLaTorre has proven the great asset he is for the school, as well as the community, Fink said.

"Jeff's attention to detail and his professionalism (make him a successful coach)," he said. "His integrity within the program and his high standards within the basketball program set him apart."

Assistant Basketball Coach Jason Young also thinks highly of DeLaTorre, he said.

"He really looks out for the well-being of the kids. He puts them first," Young said. "He does a great job with helping the kids become more than just basketball players."

Young is in his 11th year working with DeLaTorre. At the beginning, Young was DeLaTorre's freshmen team assistant.

DeLaTorre said he can't take all the credit for the wins he's accumulated.

"I look at this accomplishment as more of a program accomplishment than just me," he said. "There have been a lot of great kids, good players that have come through here. It goes down as me coaching the wins, but those guys are the ones that did it.

"It's one of those things that, it's a neat accomplishment, but it's one that a lot of people have had a part of."

Of all the games he's coached, DeLaTorre said the most difficult have been tournament games.

"Some that really stand out are just the state tournament games. Those are probably the most memorable because of what was at stake," he said. "In 2004, we were the sixth seed. Just seeing the kids come together and working so hard to get that done. We knocked out Andover Central that year, and I don't think many people picked us to win. Those kids, most of them were juniors, were able to come back the next year and win again."

Players from many other seasons have also shown great determination to win, DeLaTorre said.

"The senior class of 2007 worked hard to get back there and get their moment," he said. "We got third in 2012. I think that was unexpected as well, but those guys worked hard. Those three or four years were pretty good. When you get to that level, the stakes are magnified. That was unique for that group of kids. It was a great experience."

DeLaTorre's oldest son, Kaleb, is a senior player on his basketball team this season. His younger son, Jacob, will enter the school as a freshman in the fall and will also get the chance to play for his dad. The opportunity to coach Kaleb, and soon Jacob, has been "very rewarding," DeLaTorre said.