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Russ Hobbs IBCA Hall of Fame nominee

  • The Hobbs family gathers for a photograph at Christopher Jr. High School. In front, Tinley and Carson Hobbs. Back row: Tiffanie, Jason, Stephanie, Russ and Kyle Hobbs.

    The Hobbs family gathers for a photograph at Christopher Jr. High School. In front, Tinley and Carson Hobbs. Back row: Tiffanie, Jason, Stephanie, Russ and Kyle Hobbs.

By Rick Hayes
updated: 1/13/2019 11:09 AM

Coaching and teaching has few rewards. Wins and losses are forgotten; lessons in the classroom all too often get lost in a universal world of information.

For 45 years, Russ Hobbs of Christopher Junior High School has kept the course, never sure of his impact on young people's lives.

Hobbs now has an idea of his influence on family, former players and students. A gym filled to near-capacity honored Hobbs' legacy late last week when it was announced he will soon be inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame.

Friends and family kept the announcement secret until Thursday's game with St. Mary's of Herrin, a 47-45 victory for Christopher.

"I had no idea any of that was going on. I was surprised they were doing that ceremony and was surprised and amazed that so many former players showed up," said Hobbs. One of Christopher's favorite players, T.J. Wheeler, even drove down from the Champaign area.

Following Thursday's victory, Hobbs has accumulated 420 career victories.

"It will take people a few years to understand just what an influence Russ Hobbs had on their sons," said Tom Wheeler, Christopher sports historian. "All his wins were not an accident. He works hard the year around and treats them all the same, like they were his own son. I'm extremely proud to say Coach Hobbs coached my son T.J. and my grandson, Hunter."

Look no further than his son, Jason Hobbs, JV coach at Benton High School, to further understand his father's impact in the community.

"It's been immeasurable. I could go on and on with what he's done with me, my brother (Kyle) and my son, who is playing for him now. It's amazing what an impact he's had on students and players. It never ceases to amaze me when we're out and about and he'll run into former students and players. They have amazing respect for my dad. He's had a huge impact on a lot of people's lives."

Kyle Hobbs is the seventh grade coach at Christopher and teaches special education.

The whole family has been involved in education, now in its third generation.

"His mom, my grandmother, taught at Thompsonville for 40 years. I have been coaching and teaching for almost 20 years. My brother teaches and coaches and my wife teaches and she's been a cheer coach. So it's something in the family genes that we take great pride in, being able to help kids in the classroom and in sports," Jason Hobbs said.

Following his fourth small school junior high state championship in 2017-2018, Hobbs was named Coach of the Year for the sixth time. He also recorded state title in 1986, 1993 and 1994. His teams finished second and fourth, respectively, in 2002 and 1992.

Of the nine trips to the state finals, Christopher came away with a trophy seven times.

Hobbs coached at Thompsonville High School for three years in the early years of his career, winning over 20 games.

In addition to coaching basketball, Hobbs has been involved in the baseball and track programs at CJHS, has served as the athletic director and recently started a cross country program.

"He works harder than probably any coach I know. He's always looking for ways to make his kids get better and help them be successful. You would think he would slow down a little bit at his age but he works as hard or harder now at 67 than when I was in the grade school in the early 90s," Jason Hobbs said.

Hobbs confirms he plans to coach two more years so he can coach his grandson, Carson, now in the sixth grade.

The IBCA induction will take place May 4 in Bloomington.

"It's a dream come true. When you start coaching you think it would be a great thing to reflect on your career. It means you've done a few things right. You earn respect from your colleagues for what you've done," Hobbs said of the induction.

Benton High School coach Ron Winemiller nominated Hobbs for the recognition, for which Hobbs was grateful.

"I want to publicly thank him for the nomination and to my sons, Jason and Kyle, for putting together information for the induction," Hobbs said.