There was no shortage of history inducted into the Southern Illinois High School Coaches Hall of Fame this past month.
Of the eight inductees for 2021, Pinckneyville basketball coach Bob Waggoner accepted his plaque after being honored at Rent One Park on Tuesday evening.
Waggoner joined first-year Pinckneyville volleyball coach Mike Layne on the induction list after finishing 21-3 in his debut with the Lady Panthers following 20 seasons in Murphysboro with over 500 wins.
"Mike is a great leader and his record speaks for itself," said Waggoner. "He has been so successful, but even more impressive is his ability to get his players to buy in to his team first culture.
"Pinckneyville is lucky to have him leading our volleyball program."
Waggoner’s photo with the plaque was shared on the Panther Basketball (@PCHS_Hoops) Twitter page, which reads: “In recognition for outstanding dedication to high school basketball in Southern Illinois…,” followed by Waggoner’s name.
The term “outstanding dedication” speaks volumes to all of the coaches inducted. Waggoner’s commitment has earned him a 335-91 record at PCHS over 14 seasons with a couple fourth-place state finishes in 2008 and 2018.
"When I look at the current and upcoming list of hall of fame members, it is very humbling," said Waggoner. "So many successful leaders and developers of our youth, it is an honor to be included with them.
Anna-Jonesboro football coach Brett Detering and Carterville football coach Dennis Drust were also inducted to make it a proud achievement for the Southern Illinois River-to-River Mississippi Conference.
Detering has led the Wildcats to a 164-93 record over 24 seasons. Of his five 10-plus win seasons, two finished with 12-1 records in 2007 and 2018.
Drust one-upped his conference opponent with six 10-plus win seasons in 17 seasons coaching the Lions. His 136-46 record was superseded by Carterville athletic director and football coach Brett Diel, who tweeted out his congratulations in late June.
“This is a tremendous honor and very deserved for Coach D and family,” Diel wrote (@CartervilleAD). “Congratulations and thank you for everything you have done!”
Carbondale wrestling coach Dennis Ragan earned the honor after being inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019. Ragan began as the Terriers’ wrestling coach in 1981 and now has over 36 years of experience at the helm with co-coaching duties alongside Jerry Richards.
Recently retired Goreville girls basketball coach Mike Helton earned his induction after coaching the Lady Blackcats to a 512-279 record over 28 years. But Helton’s numbers only begin the conversation, according to school athletic director Todd Tripp.
“Coach Helton is a Hall of Famer all the way around,” said Tripp. “Just another well-deserving honor. He had an outstanding career and it was an honor for me to be able to work with him the last 17 years.
“Coach Helton is one of the most knowledgeable basketball minds I've had the pleasure of being around.”
Cobden baseball coach Blayne Smith has 700 wins and a second-place state title in 1987 to prove he deserved an induction. Smith reached the milestone of 1,100 games coached after 36 years at Cobden, including a 38-4 record in 2005 that highlighted one of many shining moments.
Tom Wheeler, the older brother of Cobden basketball coach Wendell Wheeler, rounded out the eight coaches inducted in 2021. The majority of Wheeler’s accomplishments at Christopher came as a basketball and track and field coach.
“Growing up, I watched everything my older brother did,” said Wendell, who was a 2019 Hall of Fame inductee with his wife and Carbondale softball coach, Kim Wheeler. “I saw the success he had coaching on the floor with his players, but also his strong relationships with them after they had finished playing.
“I have always strived to follow in his footsteps as a coach. Very lucky when your role model and mentor is your brother.”