Assistant Valpo basketball coach speaks to Dowagiac Rotary

Published 9:43 am Monday, May 2, 2016

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

(Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

There was no magic strategy or game plan that got Coach Luke Gore to his position today as one of the leaders of NCAA’s hottest men’s basketball teams.

Gore’s path to success was instead paved with long hours, constant networking and making the most out of every opportunity given to him, no matter how small.

Determined to fulfill his dream of serving as an assistant coach of a college basketball team, Gore took an unpaid internship as fitness coordinator with the University of Notre Dame shortly after graduating Bethel College in 2001. As part of his responsibilities, he was placed in charge of ensuring that the school’s gyms were cleaned up after workouts.

During his time with the college, Gore learned the workout patterns of many of the school’s basketball coaches, and spent much of his time cleaning up while they were in the gym — in the process forming friendships that opened the door to him becoming assistant coach with the Valparaiso University basketball team.

“Whatever it takes, if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way to do it,” Gore said.

Gore shared his personal story and experiences from his current tenure with the basketball team during his appearance at the Dowagiac Rotary Club’s annual Family and Friends Dinner at the Elks Lodge Thursday night. The coach was invited to speak to the guests that evening by former Rotary President Victor Fitz, an alumnus of Valparaiso University.

Since Gore joined the Crusaders coaching staff 13 years ago, the team has made nine trips to the postseason, including three appearances in the NCAA tournament and three in the NIT. Last year, the team went 30-7, the best record in team history, and made it all the way to finals of the NIT tournament, where the team fell to George Washington University 76-60.

“There were only four teams that played longer than us this year: the teams that were in the Final Four (of the NCAA tournament) and George Washington, the team that beat us,” Gore said.

A native of Chicago who grew up Paris, Tennessee, Gore learned early from his father, a tool and die maker, one of the most important things you can in life is work hard and have passion for what you do, he said.

The coach also applied another piece of advice — always arrive to work an hour earlier and leave an hour late — to his professional philosophy, allowing him to transfer his experience wiping up sweat from Notre Dame treadmills into an administrative assistant position with the Valpo basketball team.

“Resumes are great in today’s society, but if you want to get into athletics they don’t help a whole lot,” Gore said. “It’s putting yourself out there, working harder and making yourself more available.”

While his love for the sport of basketball is apparent, the most important thing in Gore’s life is his family: his wife, Cheryl, and their two adopted children, Bartholomew and Christine. Another passion of Gore is helping children find their own way in life, which has led him to serve on multiple mission trips to Africa.

“I think passions are the key to life,” Gore said. “Mine’s adoption. If you ask me about anything with kids, if they need a home, let’s help them.”