Girls Coach of the Year: Longevity pays off at Leipsic for Kreinbrink

LEIPSIC – Leipsic High School girls basketball coach Gary Kreinbrink’s first coaching win came in the 1980s. The 500th of his career was this year. And the last one is still out there in the future, maybe many years in the future.

Leipsic (21-3) won the Putnam County League championship this season and was runner-up in the Northwest Conference.

That league title was the tenth Leipsic has won in Krenbrink’s 37th season – five in the PCL and five in the Blanchard Valley Conference. The Vikings have won two district championships and had 20 or more wins four times in his career.

A 51-15 win over Ada on Feb. 2 was the 500th of his career. When this season ended his career record was 503-353.

No one in Putnam County girls basketball has coached more seasons than Kreinbrink and only retired Ottoville coach Dave Kleman, with 532 wins, has more victories than he has.

Add it all up and he is The Lima News Dream Team girls basketball Coach of the Year.

“I’m humbled by the recognition of the award. It’s a combination of things how you get there. It’s about the players, it’s about the parents, it’s about our former players and their parents,” Kreinbrink said.

“Our expectations are the same every year. Our expectations are playing the game the right way, being humble in victory, having a good team culture, and all of these things go on from one year to the next,” he said.

Kreinbrink, a 1979 graduate of Leipsic, retired from teaching at the school nine years ago and retired as athletic director last year after 18 years in that job.

He plans to return as the Vikings’ coach next season. “I know retirement is somewhere around the corner but I don’t know when it is yet. I know it’s right in front of me. Each year I try to make a decision with my wife as far as how many years I want to do this yet,” he said. “I’m having fun with it yet. That’s kind of the reason I still do it.”

Kreinbrink taught and coached for two years at East Knox High School after graduating from Bluffton University before returning home to Leipsic.

When he got to Leipsic there were two coaching positions open – boys JV basketball coach and girls basketball varsity coach.

“I could have had either one. I thought I could coach varsity girls and get some experience and move over to boys but it never happened. I liked the girls once I started coaching at Leipsic and just stayed with that. I never did move to the boys,” Kreinbrink said.

Asked what are the biggest changes he has seen in girls basketball in the last 37 years, he said there are two which are the biggest.

“One is the 3-point line. When I started there was not a 3-point line. I remember those early years when there first was a 3-point line most coaches in our area said, ‘There is no way we’re going to start playing that kind of basketball where we’re going to just start shooting threes.’ So everybody pushed the ball inside like they always did and took mid-range jumpers.

“In those early days I think we led the area in 3-point makes. We were kind of one of the first teams to start working that into our system,” Kreinbrink said.

“The second big change from when I started is that there was not a girls basketball,” he said, referring to the 28.5-inch circumference basketball now used in girls basketball. Before the 1980s girls used the 29.5-inch circumference ball used in high school boys basketball games.

“Changing to the 28.5 basketball for girls really changed things because the girls could handle the ball better. And girls started shooting a little bit better with the smaller ball,” Kreinbrink said.

More coverage

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Boys Coach of the Year: Winning the norm at Ottawa-Glandorf with McGlaughlin at the helm

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.

Jim Naveau
Jim Naveau has covered local and high school sports for The Lima News since 1978 and Ohio State football since 1992. His OSU coverage appears in more than 30 newspapers. Naveau, a Miami University graduate, also worked at the Greenville Advocate and the Piqua Daily Call. He has seen every boys state basketball tournament since 1977. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0414.