In his 24 years on the Wilmington sideline, Jerry Scheve has won more than 400 games.
For Scheve — who was named the National Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Quakers to the 2003-04 NCAA Division III national championship — it is an enduring love for basketball, not victory milestones, that keeps his coaching fire burning.
“I coached my first team when I was 16 years old,” Scheve said. “After I got out of college I started coaching again. As I was trying to find a career I knew the only thing I really enjoyed was coaching basketball. I remember telling myself that I didn’t know what else I’m going to do, but I know I’m always going to coach basketball, and I have. I’ve done it because of everything that’s involved with it — the kids, the game itself, the competitive part of it.”
Since coming to Wilmington in 1990, Scheve’s teams have been the epitome of competitive, winning eight regular season and seven conference tournament titles. The 2003-04 national championship season was preceded by three National Tournament appearances that included trips to the “Elite Eight” and “Sweet 16” in 2002 and 2003, respectively. Wilmington advanced to the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament and returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2008.
At Wilmington, Scheve has averaged more than 19 wins per season. Eleven of his 21 teams have won at least 20 games. The Lady Quakers have won at least 20 games 10 of the past 15 years. The numbers are impressive, if not awesome, but they are not the numbers Scheve is focused on.
“The wins are nice, but there are other numbers we concentrate on to get the wins,” Scheve said. “One goal we have every year is to make more free throws than our opponents shoot. It’s a real difficult goal to attain, but when you do it — and we have done it — it just indicates you’re doing a lot of things right. Number one, you’re getting to the foul line. Number two, you’re not fouling; you’re getting the other teams’ good players into foul trouble and you’re not getting your own people into foul trouble. It means you’re playing smart offensively and it means you’re playing smart defensively. When you do those things, you’re going to be successful.”
Scheve also has been named Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year, Ohio Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, and Coach of the Year in the AMC, HCAC and OAC.
“Statistics are gratifying, but it’s not my goal to get to the top of the coaches list in the OAC,” Scheve said. “My goal is just to have a successful season each year.”
Having said that, could Scheve, when coming to Wilmington in 1990, have imagined the incredible success he and the Lady Quakers have enjoyed?
“Sure. If you can’t imagine it, you’re probably not going to do it,” Scheve said. “Every year, I don’t get excited about what we do usually until the middle of the summer when I’m sitting at home watching tapes of games. I don’t really have time to get excited about it, but then you sit down, and that’s when I feel good. I feel that we’ve accomplished something.”