Legendary high school basketball coach Gene Pingatore—the winningest boys basketball coach in Illinois history—died on Wednesday night at the age of 83.
St. Joseph won two state championships (1999, 2015) under Pingatore, while also capturing six sectional championships during a high point from 1982 to 1988. During his tenure, Pingatore helped produce three McDonald’s All-Americans and led the Chargers to nine state appearances.
On February 11, 2017, Pingatore collected his 1,000th win—his overall record was 1035-383—and is still to this day the only Illinois high school basketball coach with over 900 wins. The legendary coach also helped guide some of the state’s greatest talents along their way to stellar careers. Among Pingatore’s star pupils are Indiana Hoosiers great Daryl Thomas, 2010 John R. Wooden Award winner Evan Turner and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.
Rest In Peace Mr.Pingatore you loved us and taught us life lessons through #basketball #StJoseph #Family #Coach #Champions I always told you, meeting you saved my life. Profound #sadness in my #heart a deep #hurt pic.twitter.com/rzMBUeYHtE— Isiah Thomas (@IsiahThomas) June 27, 2019
Coach Pingatore was such a nice man & helped so many young people throughout his long career at St. Joe’s. He was a winner in every sense of the word. Prayers up for his family. https://t.co/kHTNvPNFuG— Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski) June 27, 2019
Sad news tonight. Legendary HOF St. Joseph's HS coach Gene Pingatore who is the winningest coach in state of Illinois history with over 1,000 wins has died at 83. He was a great coach and an even better person. God Bless.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) June 27, 2019
He was also well known for his important role in the critically acclaimed “Hoop Dreams”, the 1994 documentary that followed high school athletes William Gates and Arthur Agee as they chased their dreams of being NBA players, while also dealing with the socio-economic difficulties of traveling from inner-city Chicago to Westchester, Illinois every day for school. According to the Sun-Times, Pingatore was coaching this past weekend at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.
In his 50 years of coaching at St. Joseph, Pingatore made an indelible mark on many lives and the St. Joseph community at-large.