Chicago Christian boys basketball coach Kevin Pittman talks with Mason Torres at a recent Knights practice. Pittman recently won his 250th career game, all with Chicago Christian. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Chicago Christian coach Kevin Pittman reaches 250 wins
By Mike Walsh
When Chicago Christian boys varsity basketball head coach Kevin Pittman recently won the 250th game of his career, a rather unique venue was chosen for the ceremony at which he was honored.
Pittman reached the milestone with a 54-43 victory over visiting Timothy Christian on February 3. Rather than recognizing the achievement in front of the home crowd or players pouring bottles of water on him in the locker room, the Knights’ players and coaching staff lauded Pittman at Palos Lanes in Palos Hills.
“I knew nothing about it,” Pittman said. “We decided to take all three levels of our boys basketball program bowling.
“When we got there, my son Kevin Jr., who is my assistant, called all the kids over and then he pulled something out of his bag. It was the game ball and he said that I won my 250th game, and I was like, ‘I did?’
“We needed to do something and give us a day away from the game so we went bowling. I could see who was a good bowler and who wasn’t. I’ve never seen so many gutter balls in my life.”
Pittman was named the Knights head coach before the 2006-07 season.
Pittman Jr., who played for the Knights and graduated in 2010, is Chicago Christian’s basketball historian.
“He pays attention to all of that,” Pittman said. “He can tell you the scoring list leaders and rattle all this stuff off.
There was another historical nugget that the son shared with his dad. By winning his 250th game, Pittman was just under 500 wins away from tying the program mark set by Will Slager, who from the 1951-52 to 1989-90 seasons posted a career mark of 746-282 (.726) at the Palos Heights school.
Slager guided the Knights to regional titles each season from 1971-1977. Inn 1973-74, the Knights went 27-5 and placed third in state in Class A.
“My son told me I’m only 496 wins behind Coach Slager,” Pittman said. “That’s insane. I can’t wrap my head around that and think about how long it took me to get to 250.”
Pittman, a 1985 Chicago Christian graduate, knows the Slager heritage well having played two seasons of varsity basketball, garnering All-Private School League plaudits both times.
“The historical perspective of [Slager’s career] is so vast,” Pittman said. “Having played for somebody with 746 wins is incredible. The guy was a basketball encyclopedia of knowledge.
“Learning how to coach a team and run a team from him, I look back at that time and think I played for a legend not only here at Chicago Christian, but also in the Illinois basketball landscape. You mention his name and people know exactly who you’re talking about.”
Pittman points to another factor that has formed the foundation of his basketball success: Having an opportunity to coach with Kevin Jr.
“It’s one of the things that has kept me going,” Pittman said. “Being able to coach him was awesome. It’s always difficult to do that, coaching your kids.
As Knights softball coach, he also coached his daughter Kaycee, a 2014 graduate. Kaycee is now his lead assistant on the diamond.
“Sharing the experiences of coaching them and coaching with them has allowed me to do this for so long. Junior and I scout together and we do practice plans together,” Pittman said. “It’s an experience I wish every coach could have.
“It’s been so much fun. They both wanted me to coach them and I told them to be careful what they wished for.”
Pretty impressive achievements for someone who originally wasn’t considering becoming a high school coach.
After graduating from Timothy Christian College, Pittman was back in the Palos Heights area and received a phone call during which he was asked to be an assistant for the Knights freshmen boys basketball team. He did that for a year before taking the freshman head coaching job, then coached the sophomore team before a five-year stint (2001-2006) as a varsity assistant under Ross Douma.
“I still love to compete,” he said. “It’s in my blood and I try to bring that out in our players. I love to see that and try to develop them as athletes, as well as great Christian leaders, as they move on from here to bigger and better things.”
In addition to coaching boys basketball and softball, he also is the dean of students along with being the activities director and teaching two classes of strength training.
Once a Knight, always a Knight.
“Honestly, if this were anywhere else, I may not have taken the job and done it or even entertained the thought,” Pittman said. “To be able to do this here is incredible. This place is in my blood.”
The Knights are 7-19 overall and 3-8 in the Metro Suburban Conference this season, after finishing 2021-22 with a rare losing record of 6-24 last season. But Pittman still provides his passion for the purple and gold, and for basketball, to his players.
“I want us to play hard on both sides of the ball, share the basketball and love what you do,” he said. “When you love it, you play harder. These guys have done all we’ve asked them to do. We’re proud of the way they compete.
“You’re not going to always have success in life, but at the end of the day, if you can look in the mirror and know that you did your best, you have a lot to be proud of. When I see the kids buy in, play hard, play the right way and become great people — as a coach, that’s what gives you great joy.”
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