SAN DIEGO – It’s a milestone built from a lifetime in the gym.
With a victory last month against Bishop, Francis Parker boys basketball coach Jim Tomey notched his 500th career win. He became the sixth San Diego coach to reach 500 wins, earned in successful tenures both at Francis Parker and University of San Diego High, which now is known as Cathedral Catholic.
“Our athletic department and our administration had planned something really nice for when it was going to happen,” Tomey said. “They were hoping it would happen at home and it did and it was really a fantastic post-game celebration.”
Starting at the age of 10, the Detroit native Tomey says he always had a basketball in his hands. After graduating college at Eastern Michigan University to become a teacher, education and basketball came together naturally for him.
He coached for 13 years at Uni High School before leaving in 1999 to join Steve Fisher on the bench for three years at San Diego State University. He then was tapped to lead the women’s basketball program at the university, which he did for another three seasons before returning to the high school ranks.
Tomey became the Lancer head coach in 2005, deepening his legacy with marquee wins and skilled rosters built annually to compete with the area’s top teams.
“I feel like that’s what’s kept me coaching, the process in creating a team and then evaluating that team throughout the season,” Tomey said.
In his years, he’s coached thousands of kids, including NBA legend Bill Walton’s sons.
“That was a special family,” Tomey said. “Not unlike a lot of families that have been special to me. Obviously that was one with name recognition and they were able to overcome the pressure of being Bill Walton’s boys and have successful high school careers and all four of them went on to play college basketball.”
For as much as Tomey’s influenced his players with his years of wisdom, they’ve taught him some important life lessons too, such as the art of patience.
“I think I’ve learned that throughout my educational career that not everyone fits in one box,” he said. “Not every team is the same and that you have to be nimble and have an ability to change and adjust on the fly.”
As for when the 62-year-old will be ready to call it quits, Tomey says he’s not sure, but it won’t happen anytime soon. He’s also celebrating 40 years of coaching overall, as well as 40 years of marriage.
He says he owes a lot of his success to his wife, as well as their three daughters, who’ve always been there to support him.