By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal
Lee Gilbert had a passion to coach high school basketball.
The Muskegon Heights standout player used his experiences to help his players on and off the court.
“One reason I got into coaching, it was an opportunity to give back to young men what I learned as a player,” Gilbert said. ”I wanted them to get the best experience with the lifelong lessons.
“Sports are an extension of society as a whole. You have to deal with people, respect people, work hard and you have to compete. I wanted to relay those things to kids that it’s not just about sports. It was about life.”
Gilbert’s successful 31-year career will be honored on Oct. 6 in Lansing when he’s inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame.
The banquet will take place at the Best Western Plus at 6 p.m. (hospitality hour at 5 p.m.) Tickets to the banquet can be purchased for $25 apiece by sending a check to BCAM, PO Box 2063, Midland, MI 48641. Tickets will be held at the door.
Other inductees along with Gilbert are Sandusky’s Al DeMott, Warren DeLaSalle’s Greg Esler and Grand Rapids South Christian’s Tom Dykema.
Gilbert compiled a 504-158 coaching record, which included 26 years at Muskegon Heights and five years at Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills. He also was the men’s head coach at Muskegon Community College for two years.
Gilbert’s passion for basketball started when his sisters took him to a Heights basketball game when he was 7 years old. His grandfather also put up a pole, backboard and rim so Gilbert could hone his early skills.
In high school, Gilbert was an all-state guard for the Tigers. He also played at Robert Moore Junior College and the University of Oklahoma. Gilbert served as captain on all three of his teams.
Gilbert is the seventh Muskegon area coach to enter the BCAM Hall of Fame. He joins Western Michigan Christian’s Jim Goorman (2011), Grand Haven’s Craig Taylor (2005), Calvin College’s Ed Douma (1995), Muskegon’s Mike Murphy (1994), WMC’s Elmer Walcott (1993) and Grand Haven’s Al Schaffer (1987).
Gilbert appreciated the support of the Heights community and credits his assistant coaches and players for helping him on his basketball coaching journey.
“I am humbled,” Gilbert added about his hall of fame induction. “It’s a blessing. I am grateful to be a recipient and to be with a select group of guys.”