Former Owls coach inducted into hall of fame

Steve Brett has a lot of accomplishments coaching high school basketball in Indiana.

But he considers the award presented to him Thursday, “the Mount Everest of Indiana Basketball.”

Brett was grateful for being inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame during a banquet in Indianapolis, which was attended by 1,100 patrons.

He was head coach of the Owls for eight seasons, beginning in the 1993-94 season, and compiled a record of 79-92.

“It means everything,” Brett said minutes before making his acceptance speech. “You don’t go into coaching thinking this is your goal. You go into coaching because you like basketball and you like to coach. There is nothing else I could do. I don’t know anything else but basketball.

“But when you get the call that you’re being inducted, you start remembering all the guys that had something to do with you, and that you met like Barney (Scott), and Coach (Jack) Butcher and Coach (Gunner) Wyman and all those guys. “Being enshrined with them is very humbling and makes you feel inadequate, but it’s certainly a reward well appreciated.”

Scott is a former boys basketball coach and athletics director at Seymour, and the Seymour gymnasium is named after him.

Butcher is a former coach at Loogootee and was Brett’s high school coach, and Wyman is a former coach at Vincennes Lincoln, and was head coach of the Alices when Brett began his coaching career as freshman coach there. Butcher is the all-time winningest coach in Indiana high school history with a record of 806-250 in 45 seasons at Loogootee.

“I had a lot of good kids,” Brett said about his coaching at Seymour. “I had some good assistant coaches. I really enjoyed it there. My daughter (Katy) graduated there. She enjoyed it. It was a good school for her. I enjoyed my time there, and I really enjoyed the kids. They were good kids.”

Brett coached in the South Central Conference for seven seasons, and the Owls joined the Hoosier Hills Conference in his final season at the school.

Also during that time, Indiana high school basketball went from a one-class system to a four-class format.

Brett coached four years under the one-class system and four years under the multi-class system at Seymour.

“The sectional went from a winnable sectional to a sectional that they still have trouble winning,” Brett said. “Class basketball wasn’t a good move for Seymour. It really hurt them. I was never in favor of it — one way or another — no matter where I had been. If I was at Loogootee I wouldn’t have been in favor of it. They’re selling tickets, but not as many as they could, I don’t think.”

When class basketball came in, Seymour went from the second largest school in its sectional to the smallest.

Brett graduated from Loogootee High School in 1967. He was a two-year starter and a captain of the Lions before going to Indiana State University as a walk on.

“I was a walk-on there, then lettered three years,” Brett said. “My sophomore year is when Indiana State went (NCAA) Division I.”

Brett graduated from Indiana State University in 1971 and began his teaching and coaching career at Vincennes that fall. He was at Vincennes for six years before he moved on to Bloomfield where he was varsity coach for 16 years and won 223 games and eight sectionals.

Brett then became coach at Seymour for eight years before going back to Loogootee where he became athletic director and assistant principal. That was Butcher’s last year as coach, and Brett became head coach of the Lions the following year and held that position for six years before moving on to Shakamak as head coach for seven years.

“Then I didn’t do anything for one year, and I about went nuts and so did my wife because that was the first time since I was 10 years old that I didn’t have basketball practice every day,” Brett said. “Then one of my former assistant coaches got the job at Vincennes, and I’ve been a volunteer assistant for him (for two years).

“My unofficial title was ‘senior advisor.’ I was around kids and in the gym. It was a breath of fresh air for me. I really appreciated it.”

He was a head coach for 37 years and won 467 games during that time, including 11 sectionals, two regionals, and in 2005 coached Loogootee to the Class 1A state championship game. He was an assistant coach of the Indiana All-Stars in 2006.

Brett said he also worked with other Hall of Fame coaches during his career.

“I’ve also been very lucky to have held jobs at excellent schools in southern Indiana where basketball is very important, Vincennes Lincoln, Bloomfield, Seymour, Loogootee and Shakamak,” Brett said. “I had several good players at each of these schools and enjoyed working with them.

“I also got to work with some excellent superintendents. Us coaches know how important they are.”

Brett included Robert Mahan of Seymour in that group.

Brett’s retirement plans include travel with his wife, Janis, and playing golf.

Janis’ father was born in Scotland, and the Brett’s have been to overseas three times and have attended three British Opens.

“I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done,” Brett said. “I don’t think there would have been anything else I could have done that I would have enjoyed any more.”

The Brett’s are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary today and are attending the boys’ state tournament in Indianapolis.

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Hall of Fame Inductees

Name, High School ,Year Grad

Steve Brett, Loogootee, 1967

Harold Cox, Kokomo, 1954

Marty Echelbarger, Muncie Central, 1963

Rod Freeman, Anderson, 1969

Bill Greve, Waveland, 1955

John Heaton, Bloomfield, 1958

Jimmie Howell, Lapel, 1972

Lawrence Parks, Arlington, 1958

Carl Short, Ind. Manuel, 1956

Earl Smith Jr., Gary Roosevelt, 1952

John Wellemeyer, Huntingburg, 1967

David Wright, Ind. Marshall, 1978

Gene Thomas#, Fortville, 1918

# Centennial Award winner

Silver Anniversary team: Chad Austin (Richmond), Ryan Bond (Ft. Wayne South), Tyson Brit (Anderson), Noy Castillo (New Albany), Jim Cruse (Terre Haute North), B.J. Flynn (Jeffersonville), Scott George (Ben Davis), Matthew Graves (White River Valley), Jason Holmes (New Castle), Jeff Layden (Lawrence North), Toby Madison (Washington Catholic), Pete miller (St. Joseph), Kelsey Mucker (Lawrenceburg), Burt Paddock (Alexandra Monroe), Chris Quinn (St. Joseph)Scott Rolen (Jasper), Sherron Wilkerson (Jeffersonville), Randy Zachary (Anderson Highland)

Silver Award winner: Bob Lovell