Fortunately for Graves he didn’t take over a program with the girls that had to start from the bottom, but a team that had some talent. Graves said in those days there were less sectional sites, and therefore the Lions had to win the sectional at Jasper, which wasn’t an easy task. In total, Graves won seven sectional championships and compiled a record of 151-62. While Graves had a successful run leading the girls program, the program he built with the boys has exceeded anyone’s expectations.
As coach of the boys team, Graves compiled a record of 301-107 and 17 sectional championships in 22 seasons. Graves took over coaching the boys team in the fall of 1988 — two seasons after coaching the girls team. From 1993-2007, Loogootee won the sectional championship every year with the exception of 1996. That kind of dominance couldn’t have been foreseen by anyone no matter the expectations. Despite his immense success, Graves knows he didn’t do this alone.
“I’ve had a lot of support,” Graves said. “I’ve had a lot of parents that have been willing to take their kids to plenty of tournaments throughout the summer and get lessons and do all those things that need to get done to produce good tennis teams and good tennis players.”
Winning in high school sports can be a tricky situation while attempting to balance keeping the players happy along with winning on a consistent basis. Graves said balancing winning is enjoyment has been an important part of his time at Loogootee.
“I think winning is certainly important,” Graves said. “I think there is more to gain from being a part of a team and participating and learning than just wins and losses. You have to go out with the idea of winning each match that you participate in, but, realistically that isn’t going to happen. It’s always a goal, but I think you have to enjoy what you’re doing. As a player, if you’re not having fun then it’s probably not worth it for you to do that. Winning isn’t the ultimate goal, but it’s certainly important.”