By Pete Chiodo and Lisa Byers
December 7, 2012 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
Commitment. Every coach preaches about it. Only the great ones truly live it. And Crawford County has been lucky enough to have its fair share of great coaches over the years.
Well, three of those area coaches are each likely to reach an extraordinary milestone in their respective careers during the course of the winter season.
Saegertown girls basketball coach Steve Scott needs just one win to net 500 for his career. Meadville boys basketball coach Norm Price is just three wins away from 400 career coaching victories. And Meadville hockey coach Jamie Plunkett needs eight more wins to notch the 900th of his career.
“Well,” Plunkett joked, “when you’re 100 years old, that’s what happens.”
Price nears 400
Norm Price’s coaching career is somewhat unique in that his 23 years at the Bulldogs’ helm is broken up into two long chapters. Both chapters, though, have been a thrill to behold.
The first chapter started in 1979 when Price first took over the Meadville boys program. His first win as coach didn’t arrive until 10 games into that initial season. But on the night of Jan. 3, 1980, the Bulldogs finally pulled one out, slipping by Strong Vincent 52-50.
That was just the start of what would be a hugely successful run for Price and the ’Dogs, who would go on to post a record of 283-119, win 11 conference titles, four District 10 championships, three trips to the PIAA West Final and one appearnace in the state championship game.
After the ’94 season, however, Price gave up coaching due to, he said later, the birth of his son and to the fact that, at the time, he was feeling a little, “burned out.”
However, 10 years later the coaching bug bit him again. And starting with the 2004-05 season, Price was back at courtside at the House of Thrills. And 114 wins and 85 losses later, Price heads into the 2012-13 campaign needing just three more victories to reach the big four-oh-oh.
His current career coaching record is 397-204.
A half-century for Scott
Saegertown knew what Steve Scott could do on a basketball court.
As a high school player in the early 70s, he amassed 722 points in two seasons with the Panthers, scoring a career-best 49 points in a win over Conneaut Valley in February of 1974.
But when put to the challenge of turning the Saegertown girls basketball program around just 12 years later, no one knew for sure just how it would all turn out in the end. A Tribune writer did predict then, though, that if Scott “produced as well courtside as he did on the hardwood, the Lady Panthers’ fortunes” would be “in good hands.”
From day one, Scott has been a proven winner. In his head coaching debut, Scott led the Lady Panthers to a 55-43 win over Commodore Perry on Dec. 4, 1986 — a game in which eventual 1,000-point scorer Diane Schlosser would score 15 points to lead a trio of Saegertown players in double figures.
That career went on to produce 15 conference titles and three District 10 championships. Eleven of those league titles came in the span of 12 seasons — a run that started with a program-record 30-win season in 1994 and included a state final berth in 1999-2000.
Today’s season opener could mark yet another pivotal moment in Scott’s coaching career. He enters today’s 4 p.m. tip-off against Central Tech during the Meadville Sertoma Tipoff Tournament one win shy of No. 500.
Scott owns a career mark of 499-197 for an outstanding winning percentage of .717.
Plunkett piles ’em up
Nine hundred wins. Jamie Plunkett doesn’t have them all yet. And nobody likes to count their chickens prematurely. But with 23 regular season match-ups and two tournaments remaining on the Bulldogs’ slate (not to mention possible playoffs), chances are more than fair that he’ll get there.
That’s just incredible — 900 wins.
True, Meadville hockey has an extensive schedule year-in and year-out, playing upwards of 50 games a season.
Still, 900 wins in the span of 27 years, that is not chump change.
Consider that Plunkett’s career record is currently 892-340-73. So he’s been the head of the Bulldogs through a whopping 1,305 total contests. And mathematically, he’s winning those contests 71.1 percent of the time.
That’s just ... wow.
See, in high school athletics, things go in cycles. Good kids roll in, a few years later they roll out again. There are good years, there are lean years. And if a coach sticks around long enough, all those peaks and valleys tend to even said coach’s career record to somewhere in the .500 range.
For a normal program, that is.
What Plunkett has built with the Meadville hockey team, winners of eight state titles, is no normal program.
The era began on Nov. 16, 1986. The Bulldogs beat Peters Township 19-0 on that night.
Win No. 900, well that’s right around the corner.