Breaking News Bar

The Icon Series: Massac County's Joe Hosman

  • Joe Hosman, who began his coaching career at Eldorado in 1979 has been a fixture at Massac County since 1986.

    Joe Hosman, who began his coaching career at Eldorado in 1979 has been a fixture at Massac County since 1986.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 1/14/2019 11:24 AM

This is the first of a four-part series that will highlight the accomplishments of four legendary southern Illinois basketball coaches. Each part will run Wednesday's in the Harrisburg Register.

Husband. Father. Teacher. Coach.

Coaches wear a lot of hats. In this situation, especially basketball coaches.

Sometimes it even exceeds the number of players on the team.

The mark of a great coach is finding the balance between being compassionate and being demanding.

Not lost in the equation is motivating, inspiring and pushing a kid past what's considered good enough, to greatness.

For some players, a coach is the father they didn't have or the father-figure they need.

Four coaches in southern Illinois have established themselves as icons in this sport, racking up wins, along with postseason hardware and not losing sight of why they do what they do.

Guys like Massac County's Joe Hosman, Harrisburg's Randy Smithpeters, Carbondale's Jim Miller and Murphysboro's Daryl Murphy have established a legacy that is unparalleled in this day in age.

They are legends. Not only on the sidelines, but at their school.

Each coach has coached at their respective schools for more than 20 years and all have made at least one appearance in the state tournament.

In this four-part series, each coach partakes in a Question & Answer session that looks back on his career, his reasoning for coaching, the best player he coached against and what he has in common with the other coaches.

Joe Hosman is entering his 32nd season at Massac County High School. The Herrin High School graduate, who played football collegiately at Southern Illinois University, has over 700 wins and 12 20-win seasons.

Hosman was inducted in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003 and finished second in the state tournament in 2008, a season in which Hosman and the Patriots went 33-2.

Q. Did coaching basketball choose you or did you choose to coach basketball?

Joe Hosman: I've known since I played basketball for coach Mike Sortal at (Herrin) Southside Junior High School that coaching is what I wanted to do because of the impact he had on my life. So, I think since probably the 7th grade I had known that I wanted to teach and coach. It's because of coach Sortal

Q: What similarities or traits do you think you share with the other coaches?

JH: I think a lot of it is just intensity. Coach Smithpeters is very demanding on the sidelines. I know he is in practice. His teams always play hard. I think coach Murphy - I've never seen a Murphysboro team not play hard. Not knowing coach Miller, as well as I do these other guys because of the conference, but I also know that his kids play hard for him too.

I think the intensity that we coach with and hopefully how hard our kids try to play. I think all of us are still old school. We care for our kids and love them but we're going to get on them pretty hard. We're demanding of them and I'm not sure that is looked upon anymore as the way it's supposed to be. We've been here long enough at our respective schools that people know that's the way we are, and they know we do care about the kids.

Q: What made you want to get into coaching and is the reason now the same as it was then?

JH: It's something that you get a chance to hopefully touch kids' lives in a positive way. I think the biggest thing I hope they see from me is a good father, a good husband and what that looks like off the basketball floor. I hope that they see my faith and what I believe in - Jesus Christ. I just hope those are things they see in me and they know that I do care about them and want to be a positive influence in their lives. Most of them, I hope I have. I'm sure some of them would say different, but that's what I expect.

Q: How has basketball changed during your time coaching?

JH: It's more of a perimeter game and more of a fast-paced game. You don't see as many back-to-the-bucket players. I think that is through AAU ball and I think it's through watching the professionals and the college teams. You look at the best team in the NBA basketball and they do not have a back-to-the-basket presence. Everything is attacking from the perimeter. I think the speed of the game is the biggest change.

Q: What do you think is the reason you have stayed at your respective schools as long as you have?

JH: I have a lot of understanding people and I think the population would reduce tremendously if the Hosmans left! Massac County has been a blessing for me and my family.

Q: Did you ever consider leaving?

JH: I've had people contact me and I only went to one interview. I decided not to pursue that. Massac County has been a great place. Seeing them grow up to be the men and husbands - that makes me prouder than anything.

Q: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

JH: It was from coach (Bruce) Jilek (at Herrin). He was my high school coach - the one who got me to play football, as a matter of fact, and led me to play football at SIU. You have to be your own man. You cannot try at any time to play favorites. Those same people that are on your rear end, if you don't play their kid here or there, in two or three years they are never around anyways. You have to treat kids fairly. You can't treat them all the same, but you have to treat them fairly.

Q: Who is your coaching idol?

JH: I've been blessed. I've had such tremendous coaches all the way from coach Sortal to my college football coach and coach (Ray) Dempsey. Coach Jilek, coach (Jeff) Ferguson, coach (Paul) Restivo, just tremendous coaches that I have had. I've been under coach Doug Woodward who had helped me tremendously. I had so many people, but the guy that is kind of like my father figure is coach Jilek. We still talk and if it wasn't for him growing up, I may have been in jail.

Q: What is your best memory as a head coach?

JH: Winning our first sectional with my two boys - Zach and Andrew in '99 and beating Eldorado was kind of neat because I had been there, and they had a very good team. (Eldorado head coach) Josh (Bradley) was on that team and played very well. I coached his daddy, Billy. Getting to the first super-sectional with my boys is the fondest memory. There are a lot of great memories getting to play the State Championship and seeing so many of the kids who would call me and talk to me when they have success.

Q: Who is the best player you have coached against?

JH: Anthony Webster (of Cairo). Tyrone Nesby (also of Cairo) was pretty good too. There have been some great players in our conference. Harrisburg, Benton, Murphysboro. That's what makes us good coaches. If you have good players - it makes everything else easy. We've had our share of good players and we have years where I hope we have gotten the best out of our kids.

What was the best team you have coached against?

JH: Seton Academy in the State Championship. They had three kids that moved in that year and that school does not exist now and that still kind of bothers me.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.