In 25 seasons as the girls basketball coach at Olathe South, Steve Ingram has dealt with losing talented players to injuries and graduation, but he has always found a way to keep winning.
Ingram has led the Falcons to nine league championships, 12 state tournament appearances and a handful of top four finishes, including the Kansas Class 6A state championship in 2010, but he has been quick to deflect the credit.
Even when he won his 500th career game last week over Shawnee Mission South, he turned the attention to the people around him.
“First, it means you’ve been around a long time,” Ingram said. “Second, it means you’ve had a lot of great players come through your program and a lot of great assistants.”
Brittney Rinehart, who played varsity for four years under Ingram and returned this season to coach the Freshman and Sophomore Gold team, said he deserves more credit than he would ever take.
“I think he is one of the smartest basketball coaches I’ve ever met,” Rinehart said. “He knows the game, he knows what it takes to win and he’s had less talented teams, but yet they always find a way to win.”
Mike Allen, who has served as an assistant coach under Ingram for the past five years, said Ingram watches each opposing team a minimum of four times before the Falcons face them, whether it’s in person or on film.
“His work ethic is insane,” Allen said. “The amount of hours he puts in behind the scenes is definitely what has made this program so successful.”
His work shows best in a setting like last season, when the Falcons lost Bailey Rinehart to an ACL injury on Jan. 7, but lost only one of their remaining regular-season games and went on to make their ninth straight state tournament appearance.
“Last year, he might argue with it, but it might have been his best coaching at least since I’ve been there,” Allen said. “There were so many games where we were outnumbered, outsized or whatever the case was, and he came up with game plan after game plan it seemed like to give us a chance to win. And most of the time we did.”
As one might expect, Ingram has moved on from No. 500. The Falcons won twice more, improving to 9-1 and 4-0 in the Sunflower League to push his overall record to 502-269 in 35 seasons as a head coach and Ingram is already eyeing a 10th straight state run.
“Our major goals are to win our league, which is always tough, and then get to state and do something there,” Ingram said. “Those are the two main things we try to focus on every year and play to our potential and if we can do those things, it’s a good year for us.”