VALPARAISO | Being a high school basketball coach means phone calls can come at all hours of the night and with no indication as to who or what is waiting on the other end of the line.
Greg Kirby received one of his sweetest phone calls late last month when the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame reported word that the longtime coach was being inducted at the 13th annual Women's Awards Banquet April 26, 2014.
“If you’re involved in basketball in Indiana and the Hall of Fame gives you a call, that’s the ultimate honor,” Kirby said.
True to the character that led Kirby to coach 12 sectional championship teams at Valparaiso over a 16-year period, he immediately praised the work of his longtime assistant coaches, Kathy Levandoski and Mark Knauff.
“At Valpo I was blessed to have the same two assistant coaches with me the entire time I was there,” Kirby said. “I’ll (be) the guy standing up there getting the award, but I wouldn’t be in this position without them. They deserve a lot of the credit.”
After winning 115 games while coaching the Portage boys basketball team from 1978-1987, Kirby took over the Vikings in 1990 and had 16 seasons that included eight regional titles, four semistate victories and state runner-up finishes in 1996 and 2000. Kirby then moved on to Valparaiso University where he served as associate head coach for six seasons before retiring in 2012.
“It was time for me to get out of coaching and make way for the next generation,” Kirby said. “I loved coaching basketball and I don’t have any regrets. I went to a basketball game (last week) and you miss it a bit when you’re there watching. I think that’s a natural reaction.”
While Kirby has long had the qualifications to enter the Hall of Fame, he never focused on his candidacy and was truly honored when the phone call came a little more than three weeks ago.
“When I first started coaching it wasn’t anything I thought about,” Kirby said. “I was just focused on trying to win the next basketball game. I think you have to establish some credentials. My family and friends have often mentioned it in the latter part of my career, but they’re biased.”
The induction includes a reception at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame museum and a banquet at the Primo Banquet Hall in Indianapolis. Kirby will be inducted alongside 11 other individuals and joins Notre Dame’s Muffett McGraw as the only coach in the 2014 class. Kirby is also the only male inductee including in the class.
In addition, the 1984 undefeated Crown Point girls basketball team will join the Hall of Fame. Undefeated teams are automatically part of the hall after 30 years, and the team joins previously inducted undefeated: 1976 Warsaw, 1977 E.C. Roosevelt, 1978 Warsaw and 1979 E.C. Roosevelt.
Players from the 1984 team Annie (Kvachkoff) Equihua and Nancy (Cowan) Eksten join head coach Tom May as previously inducted members of the hall.
“It’s a difficult award to get,” Kirby said. “You know people that you think should be in it that aren’t. I think it’s just really neat.”