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Persin gets 400th career victory

CHESAPEAKE – It all began with a 66-47 rout of Lucasville Valley on Nov.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

CHESAPEAKE – It all began with a 66-47 rout of Lucasville Valley on Nov. 29, 1977. And it hasn’t stopped. For Norm Persin, winning came early and often. He won his debut over Valley, and then kept right on winning as he captured the Ohio Valley Conference championship in his rookie coaching season.

And he did it with a team that had one starter back from the defending championship team.

Now, 399 wins later, Persin has joined an elite group of high school basketball coaches. The Chesapeake Panthers 51-31 win over the Coal Grove Hornets Tuesday night was 400th career victory in Persin’s 24th season.

Persin is now 400-121 including 276-57 at Chesapeake. His teams have won five straight OVC titles, 10 at Chesapeake and 12 overall, six district titles, and made six regional appearances, five times reaching the regional finals.

After serving as an assistant to Jim Osborne at Gallipolis for two years, Persin coached at Oak Hill for six seasons, spent two years at Wilmington, and then moved to Chesapeake where he has taken up residence for the past 16 seasons.

As is usually the case, Persin deflected his accomplishments. He preferred to put the praise on the shoulders of his players, coaches, fans, and administrators.

"I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had good kids and good people around me," Persin said. "It’s not how many games you win, but what you do for the community."

Persin does a lot of work behind the scenes. He has been instrumental in stocking the Ohio roster for the annual Ohio/Kentucky All-Star Game as well as the Ohio/West Virginia All-Star Series.

While Persin looks at the local talent first, he tries to be objective and acquire the best talent possible. That stance might be fair, but it’s not always popular.

"I take some abuse. (Coaches) want to know why I didn’t take their kid. I may miss a kid now and then. I like to get local kids who bring in some fans, but that’s not always the criteria for picking players," Persin said.

Making those kinds of decisions can make Persin unpopular, but he said he knows other coaches who have had great success and never buckled to outside pressure.

"I respect (Ironton coaches Bob) Lutz and (Mike) Burcham. Those guys have been there for years and they do things their way and they don’t care what anybody thinks," Persin said.

"I have a lot of respect for (former Ironton basketball coach) Phil Rice. He did a great job. We’re good friends, so I spent a lot of time with him. I don’t think people realized how good of a coach he was because he was coaching basketball in a football school."

Persin has drawn the respect of his peers, too. He has been the Ohio Coaches Association Coach of the Year three times, AP Coach of the Year in 1997, district Coach of the Year five times, and coached four all-star classics including the Ohio North/South Game.

His 1992 and ’93 teams were each 20-0 and AP poll champions. During that span the Panthers won 48 straight regular season games.

But all those awards don’t mean as much to him as just winning, no matter what the number total.

"Winning 400 doesn’t bother me. I just wanted to get 400 wins, and now I just want to get 401," said Persin.

And you can bet as sure as a foul shot counts one point, Persin will get win No. 401. And then some.