Niles girls’ basketball coach looks to pass milestone tonight

Published 3:52 am Tuesday, October 5, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Though he remains humble about it, Niles girls' basketball coach Jim Arnold may reach a career milestone tonight.
If the Vikings beat Mattawan at home, Arnold will get his 300th career victory, something only 41 people in Michigan High School Athletics Association history have done.
Arnold, while proud of his accomplishment, doesn't put much stock in the number because he never sets personal goals, he said.
Rather, he sets goals for his teams and wants them to win for themselves, not him.
In his 19th season, Arnold has been the coach at Niles for more than half the years the school has had a girls' basketball team. An amazing feat, considering he never played basketball in high school.
Arnold excelled as a baseball player while at Benton Harbor High School, where he was born and raised. He graduated in 1962 and had a chance to sign with the Baltimore Orioles, but hurt his ankle playing basketball and missed out.
After graduating from Ferris State, Arnold got a job teaching in Niles, where he took a job coaching the girls' basketball at Ballard Junior High School.
He gradually moved up and took the head coaching job at the high school in 1986.
Through his years, Arnold has enjoyed success, compiling a 299-135 record for a .689 winning percentage. He's taken four teams to the state quarterfinals and coached a team that went 25-1.
Coaching the 25-1 team in the 1990-91 season was his most enjoyable coaching experience, Arnold said. Not because of its record, but because his youngest daughter, Allison, played on the team.
Talent-wise, Arnold said his 1997-98 team was probably the best he's ever coached. That was one of the teams he took to the quarterfinals, losing by 10.
Arnold said this year's 8-1 team has potential to be one of his bests, but it has been stricken with injuries.
Arnold said he prefers coaching girls to boys because they will work harder and put forth more effort to do what the coaches want.
That said, he doesn't take it any easier on his teams than he would a boys' team.
While Arnold ranks 42nd on Michigan's all-time coaching victories list, he has the opportunity to climb as high as 39th if he wins six more games.
That would give him 305 total victories, surpassing Chris Drogosch of Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Novi and Bloomfield Hills Lahser.