Following his team’s 15-point victory over Jackson State on Saturday, Walters State coach Dave Kragel was honored at center court of ‘Z’ Buda Gymnasium by friends, family and Walters State administrators.
On Wednesday night, Kragel made history by becoming the first women’s basketball coach in NJCAA history to eclipse the 1,000 win mark. His Walters State team defeated Roane State 96-66 in Harriman for their 54th straight conference win. All 1000 wins have come at Walters State.
On Saturday, Kragel was presented with a basketball, honoring the accomplishment and his 43 years as coach of the Walters State women’s basketball team.
“It’s amazing,” Kragel said. “It’s just amazing. My other son isn’t able to be here tonight because he’s coaching his own team and his kids up in Kentucky. It’s just been an awesome week, and that ceremony was really special.”
With Kragel at the helm, Walters State has won 15 eastern Division Championships, 19 State Championships, 16 Region VII Championships and 10 TCCAA Conference Championships. Kragel has coached 27 All-Americans and 77 All-Region players.
In 2014, Kragel was inducted into the National Community College Coaches Athletic Association Hall of Fame. Kragel’s first win came in 1977.
“It’s an unbelievable accomplishment,” Walters State Athletic Director Derek Creech said. “We have celebrated all week, but to have the former administrators and the former coach before coach Kragel here to present him with the 1,000-win ball was amazing.”
Along with the athletic accomplishments of his teams, Kragel has also run a clean program academically. Kragel boasts that 90 percent of his players have earned a degree from Walters State or have transferred to a four-year college and earned a degree.
Alongside him for his 43 years at Walters State has been Kragel’s wife, Darlene, who is known by the Lady Senators teams for her spaghetti dinners.
“My wife cooks meals for my team all the time over the course of my time here,” Kragel said. “Most of the teams know about the meals and her spaghetti because they come over to our house. She’s put a lot of meals together for the girls in our program.”
Kragel was joined at Walters State in 1977 by Walters State men’s basketball Bill Carlyle, who was also entering his first year. It is rare for a basketball program to hire two new coaches in the same year, even more so rare that they both are still at Walters State 43 years later.
“I am tickled to death for Dave,” Carlyle said. “I was responsible for bringing him here. I recruited him in college, and he played for me at Oklahoma State and then I got him his graduate assistantship out there and then I brought him here. I am very happy for him. He’s done a great job coaching the girls here. I am just really happy for him.”