Virgil Sweet Service Awards
Each year the IBCA Board of Directors selects individuals from each of the three IBCA Districts to receive the Virgil Sweet Distinguished Service Award. The award, named in honor of the longtime former Executive Director of the IBCA, is given to individuals who have provided meritorious service in the promotion of basketball in the state of Indiana.
Phillip GardnerPhillip E. Gardner joined the IHSAA staff July 1, 2008, as an Assistant Commissioner. Gardner, who has announced he will retire at the end of this school year, is responsible for baseball, boys basketball and boys and girls cross country.
Gardner served 14 years as principal at Wes-Del and was a member of the IHSAA Board of Directors. As a member of the Board of Directors, Gardner served one of the longest tenures in Association history from 1990 through 2008. He was elected president of that group in 1995-96 and also elected chairman of the Executive Committee in 1999-00 and 2002-03. He is a 1968 graduate of that school and a 1972 graduate of Indiana State University.
Gardner began his professional career at Blue River Valley Jr.-Sr. High School in 1972 where he later served as assistant principal and athletic director from 1979 to 1987. Prior to his administrative duties there, he taught business, health and driver education and worked as the head coach for baseball (1972-79) and basketball (1974-79).
In 1987, he was hired as principal of Cowan Junior-Senior High School and worked there for seven years before returning to Wes-Del in 1994.
During his 36 years in education, Gardner has been a licensed track and field official, held membership with the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (IIAAA), graduated from the Indiana Principals Leadership Academy and served on the state’s Division of Student Activities Board of Directors. He currently holds membership in the Indiana Association of School Principals which honored him in 2002 as the District 6 Principal of the Year. He also is a member of Phi Delta Kappa and was inducted in the Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
In addition to his B.S. degree from Indiana State, Gardner earned an M.S. degree in education in 1976 and an Ed.S. degree in secondary administration and supervision in 1981, both from Ball State University. He also attended Gaston High School his first two years before consolidation into Wes-Del. As a student, he lettered four years in basketball and baseball, three years in track and once in cross country.
Gardner’s wife, Ann, is a former physical education/health teacher at Wes-Del. He has two grown children, Alicia and Doug.
Mike LightfootMike Lightfoot has guided one of the most successful NAIA programs in the country after taking over for Homer Drew 30 years ago.
Under Lightfoot’s watch, the Pilots won three NAIA and four NCCAA national championships, 19 Crossroads League regular season and tournament titles and made 15 NAIA national championship tournament appearances. Retiring at the end of the 2016-17 season, Lightfoot finished with a 794-285 record after going 31-5 in his final season.
His final win percentage was a remarkable .736.
Lightfoot was the 20th-quickest coach in men’s college basketball history to 700 career wins, doing so in only 960 games, and the third-quickest in NAIA Division II history.
In all, he has recorded 28 winning seasons, including 11 30-win and twenty-six 20-win seasons. He also has coached more than 30 NAIA All-Americans and more than 100 All-Crossroads League players since taking the helm of the program in 1987.
Bethel has made 15 trips to the NAIA Division II national tournament under Lightfoot and have found tremendous success in Nampa and Branson. The Pilots are the only team to win back-to-back national championships and appear in three straight national championship games.
The Pilots own a 33-13 record at the national tournament under Lightfoot, the second-most wins in Division II history, and their winning percentage of .717 in NAIA Division II postseason play is the highest in history.
Bethel holds seven individual and six team records at the NAIA Division II national tournament with Lightfoot at the helm, including a record 14 consecutive victories from 1997-99, four of the top five spots for most points scored in a single tournament, the top three spots for most field goals made in a single tournament, and most 100-point games in NAIA Division II tournament history, to name a few.
The Pilots have been equally successful in the classroom under Lightfoot. In his first 29 years, Lightfoot graduated 98 percent of his players who completed their eligibility. In those seasons, he guided 33 Scholar Athletes, 29 Academic All-Conference players and six Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Teams.
Lightfoot earned his bachelor’s degree in history and physical education from Bethel in 1978 and his master’s degree in secondary education from IU-South Bend in 1981.
Lightfoot and his wife, Jacci, have two sons: Robbie and Ryne.
John GrimesJohn Grimes stepped down as men’s basketball coach at Marian University after 36 seasons in March 2012.
In a legendary career that spanned all or part of five decades, Grimes earned a 566-408 record, which was sixth all-time in the state of Indiana and 13th all-time in NAIA history at the time of his retirement. His teams earned four NAIA national championship tournament berths, won three Crossroads Leagues championships and won two CL Tournament championships.
During his career, Grimes had 12 seasons with 19 or more victories with seven being 20-win seasons. He led the Knights to a 25-4 mark in 2000-01 when they finished that season ranked third in the nation and earned a spot in the NAIA Division II Elite Eight. In 2003-04, the Knights finished 22-6 and earned a spot in the NAIA D-II Sweet Sixteen. In 2011-12, his final season, Grimes guided the Knights to a 20-11 effort that included another NAIA Division II Nationals berth where they earned a third Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Grimes guided nine student-athletes to NAIA All-American honors with two being first team picks, coached two CL Players of the Year, was named CL Coach of the Year six times and coached 26 all-conference picks during his tenure. He devoted his professional life to Marian University with 36 seasons as head coach and 26 years as director of athletics.
During his career as athletic director, Grimes led the department’s initial growth as he took the program from six varsity sports when he took over in 1979 to 18 by 2005. He oversaw the development of the 17-time national champion cycling team and developed sports such as women’s soccer and women’s golf during his time as director. His AD career culminated in 2005 when he was named the NAIA Region VIII Athletic Director of the Year.
Grimes’ coaching career began at Olivet College in 1971. He spent six seasons with Olivet as an assistant football and assistant basketball coach.
A native of Terre Haute, Grimes graduated from Gerstmeyer High School in 1963. He lettered in baseball, basketball and football. His success in football led him to Indiana State, where he competed all four years as a tight end and graduated with a bachelor of science in health and physical education in 1968. He later earned a master’s degree in health and P.E. from Indiana State in 1971, serving as a graduate assistant coach in football in the 1970 season.
Grimes, a longtime resident of Brownsburg, has two adult children and two grandchildren.
Paul PattersonPaul Patterson concluded a Hall of Fame career as men’s basketball coach at Taylor University in 2013.
In 34 seasons, Patterson’s teams compiled a 734 victories and a .662 winning percentage. The victory total ranked 11th all-time among men’s basketball coaches at the time and made Patterson as the all-time wins leader of any college head coach in the state of Indiana.
The win total helped Patterson’s Taylor squads rack up 15 conference championships and 14 appearances into the NAIA National Tournament, which led to a pair of trips to the Sweet 16 and one Final Four bid for the Trojans.
For his efforts, Patterson was selected a Coach of the Year on 12 occasions, including being named the NAIA National Coach of the Year in 1991. During the 1990-1991 season, Patterson led Taylor to a school-record 34 victories and the program’s first final four.
Patterson, who is a member of the NAIA, Hanover College, Grant County and Indiana Basketball halls of fame, exited the Taylor program after amassing 28 winning seasons and 23 campaigns with 20 or more victories. Patterson also guided Taylor through one of the most successful 10-year stretches of any collegiate program, steering TU to 10 consecutive seasons of at least 25 victories from 1984-1985 through 1993-1994. That span put Taylor in the company of UCLA, UNLV and Lipscomb as the only men’s basketball programs to accomplish that feat.
Along the way, Patterson coached 24 NAIA All-Americans and now boasts an extensive coaching tree that includes collegiate and high school coaches around the nation. Those coaches include Chris Holtmann at Butler and John Groce, formerly at Illinois.
In addition to his time on the bench, Patterson also served as an associate professor for the Physical Education and Human Performance Department at Taylor. He also oversaw the TU Basketball Camp, which has more than 65,000 alumni, and was an active member in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and FCA camps.
Patterson, a 1960 graduate of Hammond Morton High School and a 1964 graduate of Hanover College, began coaching as an assistant at Central Missouri State. His first head coaching position was at Spencer High School, and he later coached at Somerset (Ky.), Amelia (Ohio), Northwest Missouri State and Ashland (Ky.) Paul Blazer before being hired at Taylor for the 1979-80 season. Patterson also earned a master’s degree at Central Missouri State.
He and his wife, Phyllis, have been married 48 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Bob BridgeBob Bridge worked for nearly 30 years as sports editor for the Bedford Times-Mail, including coverage of Damon Bailey and the Bedford North Lawrence boys’ basketball team and Pete Pritchett’s BNL Lady Stars. He has been with the newspaper in total for 38 years.
Bridge also served as a columnist for Inside Indiana during the 1990s. He covered Indiana University men’s basketball trips to the Final Four in 1992 and 2002 and continues to cover IU basketball and football.
He is a graduate of Evansville North High School, where he played baseball and football and sang in the concert choir. He also is an Indiana University graduate.
Bridge was a 2005 inductee into the Indiana Sportswriters & Sportscasters Hall of Fame and is scheduled for induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as a Silver Medal winner on April 29, 2017.
He previously has received awards from the ISSA, Associated Press, United Press International, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hoosier State Press Association for his sports writing, editorials, features and general interest columns.
The Bedford Chamber of Commerce named Bridge the winner of its Community Service Award in 2006.