The news of his impending induction into the S.C. Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame did not come as a surprise to Irmo basketball coach Tim Whipple.
He knew his former boss, hall of famer Joe Turbeville, had nominated him for the honor. He also knew that his resume was worthy of consideration.
“ It’s an anxious time, because you do have some doubts about whether you do qualify,” Whipple said.
But his qualifications are unimpeachable.
He was named the 2013 South Carolina boys basketball coach of the year after Irmo’s undefeated 2012-13 Class 4A state championship season.
In 33 years with the Yellow Jackets, he has led his teams to eight state championship games and five titles. His career record stands at 650-251.
He was inducted into the Erskine College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and was a member of the inaugural class of the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.
In 2012, Irmo honored Whipple by naming its basketball court for him.
Yet, when the call came Whipple would be one of seven coaches inducted at the SCACA awards banquet on July 30, the coach was overwhelmed.
“It is a tremendous honor,” he said. “I’m getting the ultimate recognition as a coach. And it is absolutely an awesome feeling of accomplishment.”
Whipple will be inducted along with football coaches David Berry, Dave Gutshall and Mickey Moss; baseball coach Mike Johnson; Riverside cross country and track coach Willie Wooden; and basketball coach John Lewis Byrd.
At the awards ceremony, Whipple said, his acceptance speech will be brief. With his wife of 34 years, Valerie, his daughters, Kristin and Kate, and grandson Kellan among a small contingent of family in attendance, Whipple will have five minutes at the microphone.
“I won’t have the time to truly express how appreciative I am,” he said.
So in keeping with his philosophy of personal relationships as the key to success, Whipple plans to write or call hundreds of people who have helped make his career noteworthy.
“Anytime people are given individual awards, there are still so many people that help you get where you are, and I think it all starts with being in the right place at the right time. And I think I was,” Whipple said.
For him, that starts with the Lexington-Richland 5 school district administration, Irmo school officials and former athletics directors Turbeville and Bob Hanna, all of whom supported his efforts to make the Yellow Jackets a top team.
He also will send appreciation to his current and former assistant coaches because “without their help and talents, I don’t get where I am,” and to the parents who supported the program and trusted him with their sons.
Whipple said he also owes a huge debt of gratitude to his older brother, Robert, who instilled in him the competitive fire that ignited his passion for coaching.
But most importantly, Whipple will reach out to his players, who listened to him and worked hard to meet his expectations. He will thank the stars and the role players, the starters and the reserves.
“All of those guys, who did whatever we needed to get the job done. I didn’t win any championships without them,” Whipple said.
“Without all of those people, I’m not even nominated for the Hall of Fame,” he said.
R. Shell Dula, executive director of the SCACA, said it was clear why the group’s past presidents and board of directors selected Whipple as one of their newest inductees.
“Certainly Tim has done an outstanding job at Irmo, and his record speaks for itself,” Dula said. “We have just some outstanding coaches who have contributed so much to the development of young men and young women in the state, and Tim will be a great addition to that group.”
The SCACA established its hall of fame in 1993 and includes 143 coaches. With his induction, Whipple joins local legends such as George Glymph, Phil Savitz, Anne Long, Phil Strickland, Doug Shaw, Cy Szakacsi and Harry Parone.