Gene Pingatore had a hard time finding the words after making history on Saturday night.
Moments after Pingatore captured the 1,000th win of his illustrious career at St. Joseph, he was surrounded by cameras and people who have been apart of the St. Joseph boys basketball program during his 48 years of coaching.
"This is all about the people that helped get me here," Pingatore repeatedly said on Saturday night.
In front of a near sold-out crowd that was filled with many of the former players and managers that helped him become the first coach in Illinois high school boys basketball history to reach 1,000 wins, Pinagtore and St. Joseph knocked off St. Rita, 81-71, on Saturday night to advance in the Catholic League Tournament.
The win helps the Chargers (13-10) gain some momentum heading towards the state playoffs, but this night was mostly about Pingatore and his long-lasting legacy.
The 80-year-old Pingatore has been coaching at St. Joseph since 1969, leading the program to two state championships (1999 and 2015) and producing countless successful players across multiple decades.
Pingatore's most famous alum is undoubtedly Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas and Pingatore has also coached talented players like Amal McCaskill, Daryl Thomas, William Gates, Evan Turner and Demetri McCamey.
One of the remarkable things about Pingatore, and his overall legacy, is his ability to connect and coach talented players over multiple generations.
In just the last two years, Pingatore has coached players that went on to play at the high college level as Jordan Ash (Northwestern), Glynn Watson (Nebraska) and Nick Rakocevic (USC) all helped the Chargers capture that 2015 state championship in Class 3A.
Using a freshman point guard in Marquise Walker, the Chargers shockingly made it back down to Peoria last season despite Rakocevic being the team's only senior.
The trip to Peoria was one of nine times that St. Joseph has played in the state finals during Pingatore's tenure. The Chargers also have 13 sectional titles and 32 20-win seasons during Pingatore's tenure.
During one particularly strong stretch during the 1980s, St. Joseph won six sectional titles over a seven-year period from 1982 through 1988 -- although they never claimed a state title.
Basketball fans from all over the world might also be familiar with Pingatore as the high school coach at St. Joseph during the famous 1994 basketball documentary "Hoop Dreams."
Considered one of the best sports documentaries of all time, the film followed the lives of two rising freshmen trying to make their way at St. Joseph. As the head coach who helped produce Thomas as the film's hook, Pingatore received a lot of screen time in the critically-acclaimed film.
Pingatore has a healthy lead on the Illinois all-time wins list among boys basketball coaches and he's the only coach to even reach 900 wins in the state. It will be years before we see anyone even come close to challenging Pingatore's impressive win total and he doesn't seem to be slowing down.
In the frenzy and celebration after the St. Joseph win on Saturday night, Pingatore spent a lot of timing talking photos with groups of former players and coaches.
Amidst the sea of people, players and cameras, Pingatore sheepishly took selfies with younger players and remembered the names of hundreds of well-wishers who wanted to be apart of his historic night.
Groups of players from years' past would call for Pingatore's attention for group photos every few seconds. It was a small glimpse of the impact he's made in nearly 50 years of coaching at St. Joseph.