Former Edna basketball coach spent 43 years doing what he loved
Jan. 23, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2012 at 7:23 p.m.
It is difficult to sum up a 44-year coaching career in just one word, but when it comes to Tom Lovejoy, his last name is more than sufficent.
After all, he simply views the countless hours spent mentoring players as a labor of love. The joy he received in return was his payment.
"I didn't do nothing special," Lovejoy said. "I just had a long time with the kids, and I enjoyed it."
Lovejoy's career spans six decades, streching from his first job at Calhoun in 1967 until he retired from Edna in 2011. All but five years were spent as a basketball coach.
Ironically, Lovejoy never intended to become a basketball coach.
He was a baseball player in his youth and played collegiately at William Jewell in Missouri.
Then, in the late 60s, his father purchased a Dairy Queen in Port Lavaca, and Lovejoy decided to follow.
His intentions were to stay in Texas for just one year, but he found a job coaching baseball and football at the junior high level, which lead to a head baseball coaching position at Calhoun in 1971.
"It was just something I liked doing," Lovejoy said. "I loved kids and just liked being around them."
In 1973, Lovejoy relocated to Louise. Considering the school did not have a baseball team, he had no alternative but to become a basketball coach.
Turned out to be a sound career move as he spent 21 seasons coaching the Hornets.
During the timeframe, he coached a team that opened 1-15, but, despite the record, the season remains one of his favorites.
"When we won that one game in overtime, you would have thought we won state," Lovejoy said. "They just worked hard, and I never hated going to practice."
In the 1993-94 season, Lovejoy experienced his most successful year, going 28-6 and reaching the regional quarterfinals before falling to undefeated No. 1 Anderson-Shiro.
To this day, to Lovejoy, it is the one that got away.
"We were so close to going to state," Lovejoy said. "They were just bigger and faster.
"We gave them all we could. (My players) left it all out there, I promise you that."
While at Louise, the 3-point shot was ushered into the rule book.
At first, Lovejoy was highly opposed to the shot, but his tune quickly changed.
"It took me about 20 seconds, I think," Lovejoy said. "The first year, I had a kid who could shoot them, and it is a thing of beauty. Now, I love it.
"I like to run, so in a fast break with a couple of passes or even just stopping and pulling up to shoot a three, it's like a ballet. It's just so perfect."
In 1994, Lovejoy moved on to coach at St. Joseph until 2001. Then he took over at Bloomington until 2005. He closed out his career by spending six seasons at Edna.
After suffering through a mediocre season last year, Lovejoy made the difficult decision that it was time to move on.
"I really had lost my passion for it," Lovejoy said. "My last team went 15-16, and I felt like I should have done a better job.
"We had more talent than that. I was just tired, I guess."
He is not involved with athletics in a direct fashion anymore, but Lovejoy remains employed as a math teacher at Edna.
And he is still doing what he loves.
"(I've always viewed myself as) a teacher," Lovejoy said. "A coach is a teacher anyway, just teaching two different things."
Clay Whittington is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6507 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.