You might have seen Gene Pingatore, Coach of St. Joseph High School
in Westchester, Illinois in the 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams," which
followed two high school students with dreams of playing in the NBA.
Or perhaps on the Big Ten
Network, catching up with former players: 2010 College Basketball
Player of the Year and second overall pick in the NBA Draft Evan Turner from the Ohio State Buckeyes; or Illinois Fighting Illini senior point guard Demetri McCamey, a likely first round NBA pick this June.
Now you'll see him lead the Boys West versus Bob Cimmino Jr. of
Mount Vernon High School. The prep head coach in New York will lead the
Boys East team.
The four coaches who will lead the top high school talent in the
country during the 2011 McDonald's All American® Games on Wednesday,
March 30 at the United Center in Chicago were selected today (The
teams will be announced February 10th). Dorothy Gaters of Marshall High
School in Chicago will lead the Girls West team while Mary Klinger of
Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, N.J. will coach the Girls
Pingatore is one of Illinois' winningest head coaches of all-time.
He has 862 victories during a 41-year tenure at St. Joseph High
School. The 2010 National High School Athletic Coaches Association
Boys Basketball Coach of the Year, Pingatore has advanced to the state
semi-finals on four separate occasions, bringing home a state title
during the 1999 season.
Pingatore has helped produce countless college and professional
players including former McDonald's All Americans Isiah Thomas in
1979, Daryl Thomas in 1983 and Deryl Cunningham 1989. Thomas,
currently an assistant at St. Joseph's, will join Pingatore on the
sidelines for the 2011 Games along with fellow St. Joseph assistant
"I have been blessed with a number of great players over the years, but never all at one time," Pingatore said.
"That's going to be the experience, you don't coach those kids you
really enjoy and watch them. They're going to have fun with this...I hope I
don't screw them up (laughter). I won't know what to do with all that
size, that's one thing."
Coach Pingatore was born and raised in Cicero, Ill. and is a graduate of St. Mel High School on Chicago.
"The four coaches we selected to lead the 2011 McDonald's All
American Games combine for more than 2,500 wins and 120 years of
head-coaching experience," said Douglas Freeland, McDonald's Director of
Marketing and program manager for the McDonald's All American Games.
"We're extremely proud that some of the greatest coaching legends in
high school basketball history will be calling the shots at our Games in
The Girls Game begins at 6:30 p.m. CT (ESPNU), Boys Game at 9.
(ESPN). Tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster or the United Center
box office. Parking is free.
Getting to coach a high school game in the House that MJ Built will be a special honor.
""How many times will a high school coach be able to do that? That's rare!" Pingatore said.
"As a direct result probably of Title IX, I've had the female version
of Michael Jordan, so I'll be glad to be in his house," Gaters said.
She is referring to two-time WNBA Champion and Finals MVP, Cappie Pondexter, one of five future WNBA players Gaters has coached.
Proceeds from the 2011 McDonald's All American Games will benefit
families and children in need through Ronald McDonald House Charities
of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana (RMHC-CNI). Funds raised will go
directly to the construction of the world's largest Ronald McDonald
House, which will be located in downtown Chicago.
Pingatore is an entertaining guy and will certainly bring plenty of personality courtside in March.
"When I got the call, I said are you sure you have the right guy?
Have you seen what our record is this year?" He joked during the
announcement press conference.
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
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