When Stan Waterman took over as Sanford boys basketball coach before the 1991-92 season, he had a plan in place as far as his tenure running one of the top basketball programs in the state.
“My daughter was going to be starting school here in a couple of years,” Waterman recalls of that time period. “My plan was to be here until she finished school. She’s done that, graduated from college and I’m still here.”
Still here includes four state championship banners and 401 wins, countless former athletes in college and even more lives influenced by Waterman’s leadership and guidance while in charge of the Warriors’ program.
Sanford honored Waterman Thursday Jan. 26 before a 47-12 win over St. Mark’s for achieving the milestone in their previous game against Wilmington Friends. The road to 400 has been a notably successful one.
Waterman was a key contributor at point guard for what was then Howard Career Center, helping the team get to the state championship game in 1981 and the state semifinals in 1983. He credits his coaches at the time for instilling that competitive fire in him and his teammates.
“At Howard, we learned to compete under Joe Hussey, Thom Quann and Steve Lee,” he explains. “We wanted to win at everything and whenever we hit the floor, we expected to win.”
Waterman graduated from Howard in 1984 and went on to play at the University of Delaware before accepting a position as an assistant coach at Sanford under Tom Shimiski. The youthful Waterman was on the floor participating in games with the Warriors, so when he was named head coach in 1991, he already had a strong rapport with a team that had just won a state title.
“I was fresh out of college and still playing, so would get out there and practice with the guys and the following year when I became head coach, they trusted and believed in me,” he said.
That trust and belief, along with the talents of state player of the year Ralph Blalock, Kenny Mitchell and Alan Algee, would aid the Warriors in coming back from 26 points down to beat Glasgow in the semifinals and win the state championship for the second straight year.
Waterman has gone on to lead Sanford to three more state championships, including the last two, but his proudest achievement is watching many of his players go on to attend college and succeed in life.
“That’s a huge source of pride for me. We try to use basketball to prepare them for what I call the bigger game, and that is life,” he said. “The passion and the drive you have on the basketball court can translate to success in life. I’m really, really proud to have an impact on the lives we’ve been able to touch, not just players, but parents as well.”
Waterman admits he’s had thoughts of coaching at the next level, but the success and the warm feelings have made it hard for him to leave Sanford.
“I’ve had a few opportunities, but Sanford has been so good to me and my family that it would be very hard to walk away.”
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