LOOGOOTEE — Lee Kavanaugh had chances to move up the coaching ladder at Loogootee.
The longtime seventh and eighth grade boys basketball coach could have become the freshman or varsity assistant at times in his 26-year coaching career at Loogootee.
But he enjoyed young people and the chance to teach game fundamentals along with some mental toughness that some in the community simply refer to as, “The Loogootee Attitude.”
Indiana’s winningest basketball coach, Jack Butcher, would have been happy to have Kavanaugh at the high school level. At the same time, he was also glad Kavanaugh said no.
Butcher knew the treasure he had at the seventh and eighth-grade level.
Kavanaugh was a jewel that high school coaches crave.
“At times, he had the opportunity to move up.” Butcher said. “We had jobs open, but he decided to stay in the grade schools. I talked to Lee once and told him we’d really prefer for him to stay in the grade program because of his ability to relate to young people. He was a high-caliber person, and we never had to worry about the young people in our program.
“Obviously, it’s a known fact, at least in our immediate area, Lee was part of the Loogootee program for many years,” Butcher said. “He was an important part of our success. He did an outstanding job. He was very dedicated, very precise in the development of fundamentals, which is what you need at that level - what we needed to have taught at that level. He was a unique individual whose loyalty to the program was never questionable. It wasn’t just a job to him, it was the love of the basketball program and working with young people. He was always a stabilizing force in our program with the young people. He was a professional.” One of those young people was present boys varsity coach Mike Wagoner.