Mitch Fiegel summed up 500 wins in two words.
“Very grateful,” he said.
Fiegel has been the boys basketball coach at Collegiate for 28 years and was celebrated for his achievement Friday. He said over that time, he has come to realize there are few individual accomplishments.
He gave credit to his assistant coaches, players, trainers, fans, administration and janitors among others. So beating Newton 81-68 on Jan. 19 to get to 500 wins wasn’t so much about him.
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“There a lot of folks that put in a lot of time, effort and sweat for that to happen,” he said.
Fiegel keeps track of the number of practices each year. Sunday was practice No. 59. He said a lot more than victories go into 500 wins.
“Let’s not forget there were 198 losses along the way, so this is a 698-game deal,” he said. “We shoot for 70 practices a year, so you wanna win 500 games? Practice 2,100 times.”
Collegiate has won six state championships since 1993.
The Spartans beat Beloit in the Class 3A championship for their first title in 1993. After that win, Collegiate didn’t get another until 2007 over Scott City.
The third and fourth came back-to-back in 2009-10. Fiegel said every team he has coached since his 2010 season has been chasing that team.
The Spartans went 25-1 and beat Minneapolis 72-32 in the Class 3A championship.
Fiegel said though basketball has become a much more athletic game since he started at Collegiate. And while the way to coach hasn’t changed, the demands on the players has.
“What I think has changed is what people expect from young adults,” he said. “I think when you change your expectation for them, they change.
“When it comes to accountability and work ethic and discipline, those things are the same as they were in 1988, but not everybody wants to approach it the same way.”
The Spartans are 12-4 this season and are second in AV-CTL IV behind Andale, who is undefeated in league play. The first time the teams met Jan. 2, Collegiate lost 45-43 at home.
They meet again Friday.
Seniors Riley Dick and Cody McNerney and junior Gabe Fisher are averaging 47 points per game combined, and with that type of production, Fiegel reiterated his players importance to his success.
“I told ’em on Friday night when we had a little celebration,” he said. “ ‘This isn’t me. This is we.’ ”