Over 900 wins. More than 800 players. Coached for 46 years. Part of HHS boys' basketball for almost five decades. Five different athletic directors and seven head coaches. All of these are accurate ways to quantify coach Jake Moore's tremendous career coaching freshman basketball at HHS. After coaching the freshman boys' basketball team for almost half a century, Coach Moore announced last week after winning his 900th game that he was retiring after this season.
Moore is an institution in Hastings. He grew up and played basketball at HHS before going on to play at St. John's, where he helped win a national championship in 1965. Moore began coaching the freshman basketball team in 1971 and also coached football for 36 years, 21 of which were on varsity, including when Hastings won the state championship.
Moore won his 900th game Tuesday, Feb. 14, against North St. Paul and was honored before the boys' varsity game against Tartan two days later. However, Moore said that when the season began, his 900th win was not even on his radar.
"At the beginning of the year a parent, Peter Zak, asked how many wins I had, but I didn't know," Moore said. "So I went back, counted and figured out that I had 871 to start the season. Zak commented that I would 'get it' this season, so he must have had an idea I was close to 900. I wasn't looking at that mark or thinking about it."
Going into the season, Moore was looking forward to coaching against his son Mike, who coaches for Stillwater, and his grandson, who would be playing for the Ponies. However, his grandson was moved up a level and Moore missed the chance, which helped play into his decision to retire.
"I want to be able to watch him and my granddaughters play while I have the chance," Moore explained.
While Moore has received plenty of attention for his 900th win, he said that this season has really been about his team.
"If they (the freshman team) win their last four games of the season, they will have won 34 games this season and that would be the most by a freshman team at Hastings," Moore said. "They've won 25 games in a row, which is also a record, and they can win the conference."
Over the last 46 years, Moore said that coaching the freshman team has changed drastically.
"The first season that I coached we played 11 games," Moore said. "The next season we played 12, and now at the end of this season we will have played 43 games. We wouldn't be able to play that many games without the help and support of the basketball boosters, especially Peter Zak and Brian Davis, athletic directors and head coaches. I have to thank them for their support."
Looking back upon his coaching career, Moore said some of his fondest memories involve everyone he's coached.
"I'm way into my second generation of coaching," Moore said. "Two of my former players become my athletic directors: Tom Johnson, who played on my first team, and now Trent Hanson. The first team I coached is turning 60 years old. It's fun to see my former players become my boss or when I get to coach their sons."
However, what he appreciates even more are the former players who come up to him and thank him for all he's done for them.
"I'm a very demanding coach and we really work hard," Moore said. "While all the other teams have hour-and-a-half practices due to lack of gym space, we practice for two and a half hours. Over winter break we have three-hour practices. I try and teach them the life lesson that if you outwork everyone else then you will have success. So when I get invited to their graduation parties three years after I coached them and they thank me for how hard I made them work and what I taught them, that makes it all worth it and brings a smile to my face."
The freshman boys have four games left this season and coach Moore has four games left in his coaching career. They traveled to South St. Paul Tuesday, Feb. 21, then host Mahtomedi Friday, Feb. 24. Next week they have two home games on Feb. 28 and March 3. The freshman games start at 4 p.m.