CHESAPEAKE, Ohio — Norm Persin always is popular at Chesapeake High School.
The basketball court is named for Persin, now coach at Oak Hill. He coached the Panthers for 21 years after five with the Oaks and two at Wilmington High before returning to Oak Hill in 2007.
Now, with more than 750 victories to his credit, Persin said on Saturday this season will be his last.
“A lot of bus rides,” Persin said. “A lot of bus rides.”
Persin, 69, has said he’d retire before, but changed his mind. The third-winningest coach in Ohio high school boys basketball history, though, said he means it this time.
“I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in basketball,” Persin said. “I’d like to get up at 6:30 or 7 and have a cup of coffee and watch SportsCenter instead of getting up at 5:30 like I do now.”
Persin is the state victories leader among active coaches in Ohio. He is a 2017 inductee into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2009, Persin was named national high school coach of the year after leading Oak Hill to a Division IV state championship. He won two Associated Press Poll championships at Chesapeake and is in the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. Persin led the Panthers to 11 Ohio Valley Conference championships.
What will the intense Persin do after basketball?
“I’ll go to some Notre Dame football games,” Persin said while standing outside the locker room at Chesapeake after his team beat Coal Grove 53-29 Saturday in the Beasts of the Southeast showcase. “I’ll go to Boston (to watch the Celtics). I’ll golf a lot and cheat people. I’m not very good at keeping my own score.”
Persin laughed. He did that a lot Saturday as longtime friends came up to shake his hand and swap memories of his glory days at Chesapeake. Persin said he can always go watch high school basketball, but coaching has come at a cost he no longer is willing to pay.
“Basketball is the hardest sport to coach,” Persin said. “You know why? You miss Thanksgiving. You miss Christmas. You play through them. You might be home on those days, but it’s always in the back of your mind that you have a game coming up.”
As for the 750 victories, Persin said the accomplishment is nice, but doesn’t define him.
“I really don’t know,” Persin said. “There were a lot of bus rides. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good kids play for me. I’ve been blessed.”
For anyone who thinks Persin is retiring because Oak Hill (11-1 and ranked sixth in the state in Division III) graduates seven players, including all five starters, from a 10-man roster, Persin said that’s nonsense.
“I’ve coached some teams without much talent at Oak Hill before, and at Chesapeake,” Persin said. “It’s not about that. It’s time to retire.”