Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

March 31, 2013

KEIM'S KORNER: Bethel coach’s legacy is lasting

GOSHEN — Christian recording artist Guy Penrod has a line in one of his songs that says “A man makes his living by the work he does, but leaves his mark because of who he was.”

Mike Lightfoot, Bethel College men’s basketball coach, is a perfect example of that sentiment.

Lightfoot makes his living teaching young men about the game of basketball. He is leaving his mark because of the quality young men he is turning out that are in turn leaving their own mark, many of them as basketball coaches that will ensure the Lightfoot Legacy lives on.

When it comes to turning out quality young men who are leaving an impression on their communities and in the sport of basketball few can match the accomplishments Bethel’s legendary coach can lay claim to.

Bethel is developing a reputation as a “Cradle of Coaches. Indiana high school state championship coaches such as Jack Edison, Pete Smith, Jason Groves and Travis Hannah all have roots that started at the NAIA Division II school located in Mishawaka.

According to a recent press release from the school, more than 50 Bethel graduates are active in coaching or administrative work from elementary to collegiate levels. More than 30 are presently head coaches.

Seven of the past nine state boys basketball championship finals have included a Bethel graduate on the sidelines.

In 2005, Edison led Plymouth to the state championship game for the first time since Scott Skiles in 1982. The contest would end in one of the most memorable endings in state finals history when Indiana Mr. Basketball Luke Zeller would hit a half-court shot to upend the Pilgrims.

In 2007, two Bethel graduates would win state championships just hours apart. Bethel grad and Oregon-Davis head coach Travis Hannah would lead his team to a 1A state championship with a 63-52 victory over Barr-Reeve. Just one game later Edison would return his team to Indianapolis and capture Plymouth’s second state championship crown with a 71-62 win over Evansville Bosse. Jack’s son Michael Edison, who was a 1999 Bethel grad, was also a key member of the Pilgrim coaching staff.

In 2008, Groves would begin to make his mark on Indiana high school basketball winning the state championship and making his first of many appearances in Indianapolis for Triton High School. The Trojans would defeat Indianapolis Lutheran 50-42.

In 2009, Groves would once again return his Triton team to Indianapolis to have another shot at the state title, but suffered a 66-55 loss to Jac-Cen-Del.

The 2011 season would once again see two Bethel graduates in the state championship games. Groves would return a very youthful Triton team to the 1A finals while 1995 Bethel grad Mark Galloway would lead Culver Military Academy to the finals in his first season with the program. Before Galloway’s arrival CMA had never even won a sectional title in their history.

In 2012, former Penn head coach Pete Smith continued the great run of Bethel alumni by guiding Guerin Catholic to their first state championship with a 64-48 victory over Norwell.

The streak continued this past season as Groves once again had Triton in the state finals. The Trojans dropped a 55-50 decision to Borden in the 1A finale.

Besides all of those coaches, Bethel women’s coach Jody Martinez is a former Pilot as are Lightfoot’s sons Robbie and Ryne who work in the program with their dad. Goshen boys coach Brian Bechtel is also a former Pilot.

Just looking at all those accomplishments there is enough evidence to consider Lightfoot’s coaching career a successful one. Once you start examining the actual numbers from his career it becomes even more impressive.

The Pilot program has been under Lightfoot’s guidance for the past 26 seasons. He has more wins (658) than all the previous Bethel coaches combined (441). During his tenure the Pilots have won three NAIA national championships, four NCCAA national championships, 10 Crossroads League (formerly Mid-Central Conference) regular season titles and seven league tournament championships.

His career record is a noteworthy 658-243.

Lightfoot is the fastest collegiate coach at any level to 300, 400, 500 and 600 career wins. He reached those milestones in 10, 13, 18 and 22 season respectively.  He is tied for the quickest to 100 wins (four seasons) and 200 (eight).

Lightfoot’s influence extends beyond the basketball court and into the classroom. In his first 25 years at Bethel, a noteworthy 98.7 percent of his players who completed their eligibility also left the Mishawaka campus with their degree.

That’s a rather remarkable accomplishment in this day and age when more people seemed concerned more with a player’s points per game average than his grade point average. The purpose of college after all should be to obtain a degree not mattered how good of an athlete you are.

One of the major underlying reasons for Lightfoot’s success is his Christian faith. He wears his faith on his sleeve whether it be on his suit coat when he is on the sidelines coaching the Pilots, on the T-shirt or sweatshirt he wears in practice when he is teaching the game or on the T-shirt or sweatshirt he wears on the mission trips he takes the Pilots on when he is sharing life lessons.

Among the places he has taken teams on mission trips are the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Alaska and Ecuador.

In the Bethel men’s basketball media guide a short section of Lightfoot’s three-page biography sums up his feelings about turning out quality young men.

“I heard Coach Joe Paterno respond to this question once: How successful will your team be? His response was ‘I don’t know. I will have to wait about ten years and then I can tell you.’ That says it best,” said Coach Lightfoot.

“We need to look at the product years after graduation. What are my players doing in their communities, their churches and how are they leading their families? The journey really begins after our players finish their basketball careers, graduate and start applying the lessons they have learned.”

There no doubt in my mind when Lightfoot looks back on the kids he has turned out there will be nothing but a big smile on his face.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SLIDESHOW: High school football

    August 23, 2014

  • Panthers pick up win in Andrews' opener ELKHART - An emotional Friday night for Nate Andrews ended in victory. The first-year NorthWood coach, guiding a program once led by his late father Jim, saw his Panthers rally for a season-opening 14-6 victory over the Jimtown Jimmies at Knepp Field

    August 22, 2014

  • GN140823 fb ghs carroll 20 Carroll charges past Goshen GOSHEN — Too many penalties and too many dropped passes were a big part of the story for the Goshen Redskins in a 40-7 loss to the Carroll Chargers in a high school football opener Friday night at Foreman Field in Goshen. “Our offense is not built fo

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marian too much for Fairfield MISHAWAKA – All Jacob Whitfield had to do was run. His offensive linemen were the guys doing all the work. The junior running back for the Marian High football team rushed for 117 yards in the first half, and finished with 158 yards and four touchdow

    August 22, 2014

  • Strong second half carries Concord to win DUNLAP — The rain held off during the season opener at Concord. But the Minutemen took care of that, as they rained points in the second half. Concord scored three touchdowns after halftime to break open a close game, and the Minutemen cruised to a 2

    August 22, 2014

  • Raider defense earns shutout to start season |MIDDLEBURY — In Payton Carson’s first career start at quarterback, it was his legs, not his arm, that was the difference for the Northridge Raiders Friday night. Carson took a quarterback keeper 47 yards for a touchdown on third and 14 in the second

    August 22, 2014

  • Kevin Love Trade Basketball [GOSHEN NEWS] Source: Wolves get Young as part of Love trade MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves secured the final piece they wanted in a blockbuster Kevin Love trade. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the Timberwolves will receive Philadelphia 76ers power forward Tha

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Is this a commercial for batting gloves or a baseball game?

    Major league baseball desperately needs to speed up the action. Here's a place to start: Nix the mind-numbing ritual of hitters who first adjust the right batting glove, then the left one, after every single pitch.
     

    August 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT GN140822 Nick Martin ND Player to Watch: Nick Martin For the past three years, he’s simply been “Zack’s brother.” It’s always been about Zack. Upon arriving at Notre Dame as a freshman, Zack Martin started every single game of his four-year career. But he’s departed to the NFL now, and it’s not-so-little brother Nick’s time to shine.|Each week leading up to the start of the Notre Dame football season, beat writer Robby Howard will showcase a key Irish player to watch, previewing 10 players in total. Three players will be featured next week leading up to the season-opener against

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • WNBA MVP Basketball [TGN Online] Lynx's Moore wins WNBA MVP award Minnesota's Maya Moore has won the WNBA most valuable player award after leading the league in scoring. The WNBA announced that Moore will receive the award before the Lynx host San Antonio in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night.

    August 21, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Furry Roommates: Dorms Allowing Cats and Dogs Chase Rice Defends Bro-Country 'Jersey Shore Massacre' Pokes Fun at MTV Series Raw: Wash. Mudslides Close Roads, Trap Motorists DC's Godfather of Go-Go Honored Ukraine Calls Russian Convoy a 'direct Invasion' Girl Meets Her 'one in the World' Match Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks Japan Landslide Rescuers Struggle in Heavy Rain Raw: Severe Floods, Fire Wrecks Indiana Homes Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future Raw: Russian Aid Convoy Arrives in Ukraine Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn
Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results