All told, retiring Bloom Township assistant boys basketball coach Pete McGuire has been on the bench for over 500 wins between the Bloom Township and Bloom Trail programs.
Thirty-one of those wins came while he was head coach at Bloom Trail in the late 1970s and early '80s.
McGuire has a story for every one of those wins and the losses, too, and will have time to tell them as he retires, along with the Blazing Trojans' head coach Jasper Williams, when the season ends.
A native of Chicago's north suburbs, McGuire attended Notre Dame High School in Niles, then Regis College in Denver. He has 43 years in the Bloom system, though it seems like he has spent his whole life in Chicago Heights.
"I am just glad to be a part of Chicago Heights basketball," McGuire said. "You don't know how blessed I am for spending my entire coaching career in the Bloom system. Great people, great coaches and administrators, and a great ride."
Bloom athletic director Joe Reda and McGuire taught history together at Bloom Trail, and Reda calls him a wise owl.
"Pete is that sage philosopher," Reda said. "He is the quintessential renaissance man. Pete can talk to anyone about anything with the utmost intelligence. Some people would argue that Pete is best-versed in African-American history, some would say it’s sociology.
"I’d say you can’t put a label on Pete, but I’ll tell you there’s no one in the Chicagoland area that has the basketball acumen and historical knowledge like Pete McGuire."
McGuire started in 1970 under legendary coach Wes Mason. He was a lower-level coach, and learned from Mason and assistant coach Don Roux.
"Wes taught you how to run a big-time program," McGuire said. "Don taught me a lot about the game. I credit him for the Xs and Os. Jasper (Williams) is a lot like Don in their knowledge of the game, how they approach it.
"Wes was like Al McGuire (no relation) at Marquette and Don was like his assistant, Hank Raymonds."
Williams said McGuire has been the perfect assistant.
"He and Job (Gunderson) have made my job easier," Williams said. "Pete knows so much about the game and he is not afraid to go out and teach."
What McGuire and Williams also did was teach other coaches. Longtime assistant Gunderson said both helped shape his coaching and understanding of the game.
"You are a young coach and you think you know how to run a practice, then Jasper and Pete show you how to run a practice," Gunderson said. "They also know how to communicate basketball to the kids."
Despite their experience, they still relate to the younger kids said Bloom senior Johnny Griffin.
"They have made me a better player by just teaching us hard work and doing things right on the court," Griffin said. "They can relate to the younger kids and we respect them."
McGuire. a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, loves to wax nostaglic of the glory days under Wes Mason.
"M'Cann Gym had about 3,300 back then and we had 1,500 season-ticket holders," McGuire said. "Students had to go into the lottery and got to buy two tickets and you could make some money if you sold your tickets. We gave 500 to the opposing schools.
"If you didn't have a ticket and didn't get there by the second quarter of the sophomore game, you didn't get in."
McGuire's memories include the after-game dinners at Savoia's, a favorite Chicago Heights restaurant, and the famed "Trojan Mafia."
"We had thousands it seemed like at Savoia's," McGuire said. "Our season-ticket holders, boy, was it one big party on Friday nights. I will never forget those days.
"You had college coaches who would come there after they were scouting a player at one of our games."
Now, he and his wife of 28 years, Juanita, will have plenty of time to relax, but they won't know what to do come Friday at 6:30 p.m.