It was just so typical Gordon Peck.
After the McPherson High basketball banquet earlier this week, and after everybody else had left, Peck told head boys coach Kurt Kinnamon in a quiet, understated way that he was stepping down as the Bullpups’ lead assistant coach.
No fanfare, no major announcement. Just as he has done for much of his career, Peck preferred a quiet exit.
For the 60-year-old Peck, it ends a 30-year association with the MHS basketball program — 10 years under Mike Henson and the last 20 under Kinnamon.
And what a resume he has compiled.
His JV teams won 424 games and lost only 75. That came after he was 49-8 as the junior high eighth-grade coach.
Four of his JV teams fashioned perfect seasons. There were four other years with just one loss, 10 years with two and five years with three.
He was part of 22 MHS teams that qualified for state, including 10 championships and five runner-up finishes. The Bullpups also had a third and three fourth-place finishes.
“Gordon has been a part of 10 of the 13 state championships,” Kinnamon said. “He has been vital to our success with his keen eye for basketball and his calm demeanor. He has been a great friend and mentor to me. Gordon is the model for what loyalty, passion and consistency should look like. I will miss those Monday practices following a weekend when Gordon has watched basketball and come up with little things that we can use or tweak.”
Peck admits he couldn’t have served as the first lieutenant for two better coaches.
“There are more similarities than differences,” he said. “Both were great motivators and very organized in planning for practice and games. Both are very intelligent guys who could digest the game and apply it to the team readily.”
Peck had to adjust to their different styles though.
“Coach K had a much more demonstrative personality than Henson,” Peck said. “He really showed his passion on his sleeves. Henson would show his passion in a more reserved manner. One of their winning traits was their true care they showed in the kids. Both could get the kids to play hard in their own way. Coach K had a philosophy of a very aggressive and fast game. Henson was not quite as much of a risk-taker on defense, but wanted to play fast on offense. I think part of that was the changing of the game in general with the times. Both were demanding in their own way and held kids accountable for their own actions. I consider both to be great friends of mine.”
Kinnamon and Henson have combined for 655 victories and only 104 losses while at MHS and Peck has practically seen it all.
“Stepping down from coaching was very difficult for me,” said Peck, who had retired from his teaching job in 2011. “I loved coaching and loved MHS kids. I knew that there would be a day when this had to end and felt like going out on top like this was maybe the best way. Coaching at MHS has been an extreme honor and privilege. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to do something I enjoyed so much.”
It wasn’t all wine and roses, though.
“The demands of the summers in coaching is something I struggled with,” he said. “MHS deserves someone who can sacrifice their time freely. I will also not miss those bus rides that I had to endure for all those years. The relationships with the coaches, players, referees and administrators will be missed.”
In addition to basketball, Peck was on the ground floor of the MHS baseball program. He served two separate stints, totaling 21 years. His Bullpup teams were 242-203, with six state tournament appearances.
When he first came to McPherson, he served as an assistant football coach for seven years.
Peck said with all the time he’s spent at the school, picking one particular game or moment is virtually impossible.
“I really don't know where to start,” he said. “Each year it seems like we had at least one or more games that was memorable. I was not a guy who wrote things down over the years and I am surprised about how many things and games I can remember. Sometimes I forget about the year, but I remember many great games. I can't give you one that is the most memorable. Maybe later I will look back and see one, but now I can remember just getting caught up in the moment. I guess that's part of being so spoiled and being part of 10 state championships. Coach K and coach Henson made me feel important and respected my opinion.”
Peck will no doubt go on to the MHS Wall of Fame at some point as a contributor. He has given half his life to Bullpup athletics and will continue to follow all the sports as he enjoys the next chapter of his life.