SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - South Walton girls basketball head coach Kevin Craig has earned quite a reputation in Florida high school sports.
Craig enters the 2019 season with 790 career wins.
On the floor, he's known as a fierce competitor and leader. Off the floor, he's funny.
“As an athlete at Deerfield Beach High School, my senior year I caught ten passes," Craig recalled. "We didn't score our first five games, but I was instrumental in the cog of the offense!”
It's the court—not the field—where Craig has thrived for 37 years. Now enshrined in the FHSAA Hall of Fame in the class of 2019, he'll always be known as a winner.
“It's a 'we.' Like I said at the induction, without those people that were there and everybody else that has come through the program, I wouldn't be there.”
His resume touts state championships at Fort Walton Beach in 1994 and 1999, a third coming at South Walton in 2013. Along the way, 24 playoff appearances, and the largest, most fun delegation at the banquet last weekend.
“The 80's group all sat together on one side, the 90's group on another. They all swapped stories and of course, they all exaggerate everything that happened to them when they played. They all just lie," Craig laughed. "But they all have families. It's so neat to see them in a different light.”
That's the biggest victory of all.
“I mean, the wins are great, the state championships are great. The relationships you build with kids is just the best thing about it to me. I want you to learn more in basketball than in any class you take while you're in school, to have them learn about what it's like to start something and finish something.”
It's almost time for Craig to finish his career. 800 wins and a tenth Final Four are two goals that keep him motivated heading into the three years before retirement.
That, and an unending love for the game and the girls.
“I think they appreciate what you do for them. If I didn't enjoy it, I would have quit a long time ago.”