Varsity basketball coach Jay Blossom remembers his first win like it was yesterday, as the head coach of Northwest Hughesville against Chilhowee High School in 1988.
After 26 seasons and 400 wins, Blossom has broken former coach Tyke Yates record of 342 career wins at Webster.
Blossom tied the record on Feb. 3, in a 46-30 win over Parkway West and broke the record with a 61-34 win at Roberts Gym over Eureka.
Blossom’s record at Webster is 343-103, and Blossom has 401 wins total.
Blossom grew up in Columbia, MO, and attended Hickman high school. Blossom admitted he wasn’t a good basketball player, but he ran cross country and track in high school.
He said he had always wanted to be a coach, and “I wasn’t the greatest player which made me a better coach… I had good mentors in college.”
One of those mentors was the former University of Central Missouri coach Jim Woolrich, for whom Blossom was a team manager when he attended college at UCM.
Blossom said Woolrich was “a great mentor who helped me get my first coaching job.” Blossoms other mentors were Jim Fox, who was a coach at Jefferson City High School, and the former principal at Northwest Hughesville Woran Rileys.
After college Blossom was an assistant at Waterloo and then Lindbergh High School before becoming the head coach at Northwest.
Blossom’s first team was 4-21, and he said, “That was the best thing that happened to me…I was young and cocky and thought I had an answer for everything.” Blossom’s teams improved the next two years and lost in the district championship his third and final year at Northwest.
After coaching at Northwest, Blossom took his talents to Waterloo High School in Illinois. Waterloo had just moved up to Division II, the highest division in Illinois high school basketball.
Blossom led the Bulldogs to a 14-16 record in his first season and a second place conference finish the following year. Blossom said he planned to stay and coach at Waterloo for the rest of his career before the Webster job opened up.
Blossom said he came to Webster because “Webster is a special place. Its history of school and basketball is one of the richest, if not the richest in the state of Missouri. Webster reminds me of a college-type atmosphere…I’ve fallen in love with the place, the last game I coach will be at Webster I guess.”
After two years at Waterloo, Blossom was hired at Webster in 1999 and went 14-13 in his first year and 5-19 in his second year as Statesman head coach.
Since the start of Blossom’s third season Webster has won 94 of its 95 conference games, its last loss was in 2013 to Parkway Central and it snapped a 83-game conference winning streak, which is a MSHSAA state record.
About why his teams at Webster are so successful, Blossom said, “I’ve got good players. I know it ain’t me. If I have good administrators and players then I will have success. (Webster teams) will fight every night, we are tough, our motto is TTW (toughest team wins), and our kids have done that.”
Blossom added “to have kids who have bought into our system, and bought in in college and their careers in life is why I coach.”
Blossom has had four Division 1 college basketball players at Webster, Rayshawn Simmons is a junior at Central Michigan University, Kendall Shell was a walk on at the University of Minnesota, Cortez Conners is a junior at CSU Bakersfield, and Drew Hanlen played at the University of Belmont to go along with players who went on to play at Division 2 and 3 universities.
Current Statesman, seniors Stephan Harris and Alex Floresca have signed national letters of intent to attend Austin Peay and the University of San Diego.
Blossom said his favorite wins have been “The (State Championship) in 2008, the win over Gateway Tech to get to Final Four (in 2008), the first time winning the Meramec tournament (currently the Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday tournament).”
However, Blossom was quick to add “I know that when you get older in coaching the losses tend to stick more than the wins.”
Blossom credited his players with the record saying “I never said anything to my players (about the record). We don’t post stats or talk about awards. It’s not me; it’s my players. I wouldn’t have the record without them. I don’t see me breaking anything its more about them.”
Blossom will look to add to his record on Feb. 13, at Rockwood Summit and on Feb. 17, at home against Oakville.