By Kyle Quick and Kaylin Bade: Download article
In 1992, Tim Strobel became the Junior Varsity boys’ basketball Coach and Assistant Varsity Coach, which turned out to be the missing link to the men’s basketball program and eventually formed the Steinhoff/ Strobel era.
Regardless of one’s opinion of Mr. Strobel it cannot be argued that he coached because of his love for New Haven High School and for the kids, while he refused to accept a single penny for coaching; instead he wanted his portion given to other coaches.
During his 20 years of coaching the Junior Varsity, he compiled a record of 291-150. Clarification: (Coach Strobel’s coaching record was never known until this story and hours of going through scorebooks.) What makes this career record more remarkable is that the JV season averaged just 21 games.
Strobel won the New Haven JV tournament nine times, while setting a tournament record, winning the tournament seven straight years from 1999 to 2006.
Strobel also (from what Quick News was able to find) won the Four Rivers Conference six times, spanning over a seven-year period from 1999 to 2006, had15 winning seasons, and four years where his team won 20 or more games.
The 2000-2001 season may have been the best season in school history when combining both the JV and Varsity season records. Together, the record shows 51 wins and 3 losses, which also included a State Championship, Strobel’s fifth JV tournament championship, and second straight JV Four Rivers Conference title.
Strobel’s career numbers speak for themselves but those who paid attention realize he was far more than just a coach.
I will be the first to admit that during my freshmen year I felt like everything I did was never good enough, but then again I thought I knew everything.
I will never forget coming home after a game complaining about Mr. Strobel when my dad looked at me and said, “The second he stops yelling at you is when you better be scared.”
By giving perspectives from a variety of people who have had different interactions with Mr. Strobel, we feel, is the only way for one to have a true understanding of who Mr. Strobel is.
We spent numerous hours interviewing and speaking with over 20 people, including those who officiated his games, past players, parents, fans, and coaches he has coached against and coached with.
Ray Steinhoff: “It’s going to be different not having him on the sidelines and already has been different not having him in practice. He loves the game…just loves the game, loves New Haven High School, so that’s a pretty good combination there.”
“He put his heart and soul into the program. Honestly, he never took a dime for coaching, you never see that happen, he just did it because he loved the game and loved teaching.”
“I think he is going to miss it A LOT and probably already has since practice started. I think he’s going to miss being down there on the bench too.”
“As a coach he can be hard on kids in that he is a perfectionist, he’s demanding…wants things done a certain way. He’s no different with me and one thing that’s always good about Mr. Strobel is if you’re wrong about something or he thinks you’re doing something wrong, he’s going to tell you.”
“Most people don’t like hearing their screwing up or making mistakes…sometimes you need to be told. He’s done that with me and countless kids.”
“The kids that can handle it improve, they get better and they become good varsity players and they’re better as people beyond high school because of him…it’s hard to put into words everything he does for kids. Things he has instilled in kids make them better players, teammates, and then better beyond high school and their endeavors they go on into.”
The countless number of parents we spoke with all had the same response after we told them that Strobel had retired from coaching, “I wish my son could have played for him.”
Veteran basketball official Brad Mitchel said, “Coming into games I always knew it would be entreating. He coached hard, always getting the most out of his players, and always had respectful players.”
“One thing I will miss the most are the argyle socks.”
Gary Froning has been officiating for over 20 years and said, “My memory of Tim were games when he’d take 4 or 5 timeouts in the first half, and sometimes in the first quarter.”
Froning, laughing hysterically said, “Every timeout he took was a full timeout, regardless if he called a 30 second one or not. One thing I can say, he had great knowledge of the game and always got the most out of his players.”
Former player and 2001 graduate Robert Brown spoke about the misconception the public and parents have about Strobel.
“People see what they want to see. Mr. Strobel’s role was to get you ready for the varsity ball. If you can’t cut it playing JV or freshman, you definitely won’t be playing for coach Steinhoff.
“Having Mr. Strobel as a coach was more than just about basketball. Looking back, in practice he expected discipline and respect, which should be incorporated into your everyday life.”
“Life is not fair. This is what is wrong with society. Everybody thinks every kid should get a trophy, but in life not everyone gets a trophy. Life is tough and this is one thing Strobel teaches you.”
“I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for Mr. Strobel.”
Allen Speckhals has coached JV boys’ basketball for decades and coached against Strobel countless times. He shared his opinion from a coach’s standpoint.
“He was a demanding coach and expected his players to have good execution and play hard…it’s what a coach should do…he was just tough and it showed in his players. That’s it in a nutshell.”
“I’ll always remember this game: We had the lead and they had come back, making it a close game. We were playing a strong pressure defense at half court. He called a timeout, made an adjustment, something as simple as having a point guard pass it to the wing…it was give and go, their gone, to the basket, spread the floor, point guard scores easy layup. Simple as that and I’m going ‘did that just happen’. They of course ended up winning the game.”
“Most of all I will remember when it was game time he was all business, very businesslike. He took every game very serious; he loved to compete and hated to lose.”
At last year’s sports banquet and before Coach Ray Steinhoff knew that Coach Strobel had plans of retiring he said, “Coach Strobel may come across as being a tough and demanding coach, which he is. What I’ve found is a lot of times a coach doesn’t really know how successful they had been with a team until years later when you see these kids go on with the lessons they learned through their educational and athletic experience.”
“All I know is we get kids who stuck it out with Mr. Strobel come back years and years later with admiration, appreciation, and thankfulness for what he had done for them.”
Kent Kreftmeyer, graduate of New Haven High School, and Shamrock fan spoke candidly about people he has ran into who have never set foot in New Haven. Kreftmeyer said, “Coaches from other parts of the state along with regular fans always seem to say the same thing. ‘New Haven may not have the most talent but have always been fundamentally sound’.”
“Last week I was getting my hair cut and talking with a retired official from Jefferson City and one thing he said was ‘Tim runs things the right way’.” You would be surprised how many kids, and not just basketball players, write him letters and thanking him years after graduation. It’s more than just ‘coach’ with him.”
“While working over the past 15 years there is one thing that stood out for me…Strobel and Steinhoff get more praise from the two counties (Gasconade and Osage) I work in than people in New Haven”
One of the proudest moments for Mr. Strobel was New Haven High Schools Basketball Program inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
David Menke, Author of “A Century of Champions” said, “What Tim brought to New Haven basketball was emphasizing the basic, firm disciplinary approach to sports, and provided a solid frame work for Coach Steinhoff to take kids to a high level. The key to New Haven’s success has been found; fundamentals and these things all began with Tim.
No one has been closer to Strobel in the past 20 years than the varsity head coach Ray Steinhoff. They have won three State Championships together and during a five-year stretch, they took four teams to the final four.
Coach Ray Steinhoff:
“Tim has played a tremendous role in our success and a big role in developing me as a coach. I learned a lot of things from Coach Strobel…there are a lot of things I took from him that I use today as a coach and I would not be the coach I am if it were not for Coach Strobel.”
Mr. Strobel does everything possible to avoid taking credit; instead he complements someone else even though he was a big part of whatever is being acknowledged.
Think back to the three state championships he was a part of; he was never seen in any of the parades through town after winning state or the ceremony held after the parade at the high school.
More importantly he was the only person not in the documentary, “Tradition of Excellence”, and it was not a lack of trying to get him to be interviewed.
Steinhoff said, “The most memorable moment for me in our 20 years of coaching was winning our first State Championship together. It meant a great deal to me but seeing how emotional Mr. Strobel was after that game and just how happy he was, knowing that all the hard work had paid off. The smile on his face after that game and his amount of excitement meant a great deal to me…seeing that in Mr. Strobel…I will cherish the rest of my life.”
Picture of the 2001 State Championship team and as mentioned above, who is the one man missing in the photo.