After presenting coach Mike Waldo with a gift following his 700th career win Tuesday, the Edwardsville Tigers were certain that gift may not be opened for quite some time.
Waldo’s decades of long hours spent scouting opponents and creating game plans do not go unnoticed by his players.
“He’s going to have a long night tonight, and he’s not going to even think about his 700th win,” Edwardsville senior A.J. Epenesa said after the Tigers pounded DeSmet 73-52. “I don’t know if he’ll even open his present we got him, but I know he appreciates it, and I know he loves every one of us from the bottom of his heart, for real.
“We feel the same way, and we’d do anything for him because I know he’d do anything for us.”
Among the many hugs and handshakes Waldo shared after the game, one of the the most memorable came from his father, Gayland Waldo.
“He’s a great man,” Mike Waldo said of his father, who has attended many of his son’s games over the years in both basketball and in baseball, where Waldo serves as Edwardsville’s pitching coach. “He’s the toughest, best man I know, and my mom (Pat) is the greatest lady that I know.
“My dad and I grew up watching sports together. We watched all kinds of sports together, I remember watching the Ice Bowl, the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. I remember watching Wilt Chamberlain play, they used to advertise Stag Beer when the St. Louis Hawks played.
“I just remember watching sports with my dad my whole life.”
He’s going to have a long night tonight and he’s not going to even think about his 700th win.
Edwardsville senior A.J. Epenesa
Waldo’s father also helped his son get his start in basketball as the family’s home in Granite City.
“I was the first guy on Fleming Street to have a basket,” Mike Waldo said. “He put up a basket and when he put it up he forgot we had a glass garage door (window). The first day I shot, I broke the window. The next day he had a bar across it and then he had a light on it.”
Immediately when the game ended Tuesday, the public address announcer began to tell everyone about Waldo’s 700th career win. However, the pep band went right into the school fight song, so Waldo’s loud ovation had to wait a few more minutes.
Not that he wanted any type of fancy celebration. It may have been his 700th win, but to Waldo it was time to move on to the Granite City game on Friday.
“I’m really happy for Coach Waldo,” Edwardsville senior guard Mark Smith, who added a scholarship offer from Utah on Tuesday to his growing list. “He puts in so much work because he’s been coaching for a long time. To get an honor like that and to make history by getting his 700th win, it just shows he deserves it.
“He always says hard work pays off and he did that tonight. It’s just a real special moment.”
To get an honor like that and to make history by getting his 700th win, it just shows he deserves it.
Edwardsville senior Mark Smith
Waldo also singled out wife Diane Waldo for praise. He directed special thanks to her for all she did to help raise his family while he was coaching basketball.
“I’m also very thankful that my wife has been willing to be a single mom from November to March every year,” he said. “That’s allowed me to get to coach basketball the way I want to. I’m very thankful to her, she’s got the heart and the determination and the perseverance to be a single mom for four or five months every year.
“I think that takes a lot and I really admire it.”