Posted: 9:36 pm Tuesday, February 9th, 2010
By Jason Lieser
After 28 seasons and more than 500 victories, the only boys basketball coach in Santaluces’ history is ready to retire.
Willie Gibson, who began coaching the Chiefs in 1982, said he is retiring at the end of this season.
“A lot of friends say they couldn’t see me wearing anything other than red, white and black — and that may be true,” Gibson said. “I will miss it.
“I built this program from the ground. If you build the foundation right, it’s going to stand strong and we built a great foundation. The 28 years I had here were excellent.”
Santaluces beat Park Vista 64-45 Tuesday to advance to Friday’s District 9-6A semifinals. If the Chiefs win that game, they will play in the district title game and earn a berth in the state playoffs. If they lose Friday, it will be Gibson’s final game.
He shared his plans with the players last Friday after the team beat Boynton Beach in its final regular-season game.
Senior C.J. Roberts, a four-year varsity player, said he was saddened by the news and will cherish the time he spent with Gibson.
“It was always high-intensity,” Roberts said. “He pushed us hard every day, and I love him for that.”
Gibson guided Santaluces to its first state final four in 1986, just three years after the team went 1-24 in its inaugural season.
The Chiefs went 25-4 last season and returned to the state semifinals.
Gibson pondered retirement again in the off-season but came back, in part, to chase his 500th career victory.
He got that win five games into this season by beating Jupiter 79-67 in December. The Chiefs are 13-7 this season, giving Gibson 509 victories.
Gibson, 59, has dealt with Type 2 diabetes since childhood and has had other health concerns in the past few seasons, but nothing seemed to detract from the joy of coaching.
“What you see in me — this is my passion,” he told The Post last year. “This is my gift from God. This is what I love doing.”
Gibson was a star in Palm Beach County long before he began his coaching career. He led the county in scoring during his senior season at the now-defunct Seacrest High in Delray Beach.
Gibson said assistant Reggie Dixon, his son-in-law, already has been named the team’s next head coach. Dixon has been with the team for 13 seasons and is a math teacher at the school.
“I’m glad they gave it to Reggie,” Gibson said. “The system won’t change, and that’s a good thing for Santaluces.”