It seems like every time Miner Webster hits a milestone in his long high school coaching career in girls’ basketball, he does it with authority.
When Webster hit the 700-win marker, his Highland High School girls’ team beat Mesquite High by 23 points. Win No. 779 last November, which made him the winningest girls’ hoops coach in the state, was a 22-point blow-out of Desert Vista High. And on Monday this week, the Hawks dominated Mountain View High School (Mesa), winning by 32 in a 53-21 romp that gave Webster his 800th career win.
That induction into the sport’s 800 Club (Boys’ coach Gary Ernst at Mountain View is the only other member in the state) is incredibly impressive by itself. But Webster’s winning percentage over a career that spans 30 years is .841 (800-151).
To appreciate that, consider this: John Wooden won 80 percent of his games during the 27 years he was building a college dynasty at UCLA, and Morgan Wooten won 87 percent on the high school level. Wooten became a legend in 47 years as the boys’ coach at DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland and is generally considered the best high school coach of his time.
Webster spent 25 years at Gilbert’s Highland High, winning six state titles, and five years at Gilbert High School where he won a couple more.
Since Webster has devoted his entire high school career to the Gilbert community, it was only fitting when the City issued a proclamation a few years ago, declaring January 17 to be “Miner Webster Day.” The date the City selected corresponds with the date he beat Mesquite for win No. 700.
But his selection just four years ago as the National Coach of the Year also shone the national spotlight on Arizona. It says something to the rest of the country about the status of girls’ basketball here in this state when the top coach in the nation chooses to ply his trade here in the desert instead of at one of the national powerhouses on the other side of the country.
Girls’ basketball is still developing and growing in the Southwest, coming late to the party after long-established programs have built tradition and prestige in the East and in the Midwest. Coaches like Webster are helping to change that trend.
Not that long ago, Webster wasn’t sure his health would allow him to keep coaching long enough to reach 800 wins. But back surgery in 2012 gave him a new lease on life and the coaching longevity he needed to join the exclusive club. Now he takes it one year at a time, but the 64-year-old said in a recent interview that he plans to continue stacking up the wins – at least for awhile.
But there’s still lots of time yet this season to pad his record. This year’s team got off to a rocky start, losing two of its first three games, but is now on a three-game win streak as the Hawks prepare to take on Perry High School tomorrow night.
It’s a long grind through a high school basketball season. The end of the season is when consideratons about retirement often come to the surface.
Should Webster decide it isn’t his time yet, another couple of seasons on the bench will make it extremely difficult for those coming after him to eclipse his record.
But regardless of when Webster decides to hang up his whistle, his legacy has already been set in stone.