Rend Lake College lost a legend yesterday. James E. "Jim" Waugh of Terre Haute passed away Tuesday morning, September 4, 2018 at Cobblestone Crossings Health Campus. He was 81 years old.
Waugh was born July 26, 1937 in Vigo County to Max Waugh and Avis Grammer Waugh. He taught, directed athletics and coached at RLC from 1967-1995. While RLC has a long and storied athletic heritage, and many positive leaders have helmed various teams around campus, no one embodied the legacy of "coach" for Warrior athletics than the man they called "Hummer." Retired RLC Coach Mike McClure gave him the nickname while coaching softball. Waugh would chatter to his pitchers from the dugout, "Hum, baby, hum."
With nearly 50 combined athletic seasons under his belt, Waugh had a hand in almost every sport offered at RLC. From baseball to cheerleading sponsor, volleyball to hardwood -- Hummer's impact and legacy were far-reaching and his wins were many. But most importantly, the "gentle giant" is remembered for his positive impact on the lives of those around him. Hummer was blessed with a special kindness and character that encouraged his players to succeed for him, for their school, and for themselves.
Dr. Harry J. Braun, former RLC President, once commented, "Jim Waugh is one of my favorite people. He's the kind of person with whom I would like to have my kids associate with."
Another former president, Mark Kern, remarked, "Jim was a positive influence on every person he met and many former players are now involved in coaching."
Waugh, a native of Terre Haute, Ind., and former three-sport star at his hometown Indiana State University, came to the area in 1966 as basketball and baseball coach at Mt. Vernon Community College. Rend Lake College became a reality the following year.
In total, Hummer won 501 basketball games, including the first seven seasons in the prep ranks, 15 seasons as coach of the Warrior men from 1966-81 and 14 with the Lady Warriors from 1981-95. As a result, he earned induction into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1995. He also spent 17 of those years at RLC as Athletic Director. His Lady Warriors averaged 18 wins per season and made him GRAC "Coach of the Year" in 1987; they posted 22-, 26- and 25-win campaigns from 1985-88.
The men won two Southern Illinois Collegiate Conference titles and were 20-6 in 1972-73 and 21-12 in 1979-80. Twelve softball seasons (216-150) produced a third-place NJCAA Region XXIV showing in 1991-92. He received the 1991 "Faculty Excellence Award" and was NJCAA Region XXIV Women's Director when he retired. He was inducted into the RLC Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2001/2002.
Hummer occupies three of the top-10 slots for longest-serving coach in RLC history -- his stints leading men's and women's basketball and the RLC softball team. In total, Waugh coached for a combined 47 seasons with the various Warrior teams.
Outside of athletics, Hummer was a noteworthy educator as well, with 29 years of service to RLC.
In 1991, he was named recipient of the RLC Foundation "Faculty Excellence" Award. In addition, he co-chaired the RLC Foundation's "Generations of Excellence" Family Capital Campaign.
Waugh's letter of recommendation for the "Faculty Excellence Award" was signed by 14 peers. In part, it read: "Jim Waugh has stood for scholars/athletes, not the other way around … To know Rend Lake College is to know Coach Waugh. He is more than 'Hummer,' he is Heart. Just the other day, a student who has been in his classes and on his team commented, "His heart is as big as a house. You can always go to Hummer (for help)."
At one time or another, Waugh taught almost every course available through the Health and Physical Education Department. He is credited with developing the Basic First Aid course and the Substance Use and Abuse course, as well as many of the P.E. activity courses.
Hummer will always be part of the fabric of RLC and the area. In addition to more than 35 of his former scholars/athletes being in the coaching ranks today, the college's gymnasium was dedicated to him in a naming ceremony on Nov. 3, 1995, officially becoming the James "Hummer" Waugh Gymnasium. His long-time friend and fellow RLC athletic staple Wayne Arnold summed up Waugh as "a gentleman on and off the court" who was devoted to his family.
A gathering at Waugh Gymnasium on Rend Lake College's Ina Campus is scheduled for 1:00 PM Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. Read Hummer's obituary online here. If friends should so desire, memorial contributions may be made to the "Coach Jim 'Hummer' Waugh Memorial" through the Rend Lake College Foundation, 468 N. Ken Gray Parkway, Ina, IL 62846 Attn: Foundation. Or give online at https://rlc.edu/foundation/give-now.