VVS' Knapp nabs 500th win

Vernon-Verona-Sherrill boys varsity basketball Coach Al Knapp earned his 500th career coaching win as his Red Devils squad defeated Oneida 62-50 last Tuesday night.

Knapp, who has coached for 32 years, did not see that big of a difference in this victory than any others during his career in Brookfield and VVS.

"This win was just as hard as the other 499 before it," Knapp said "I'm glad the kids finally got it so the pressure would be taken off of them."

Whitesboro denied Knapp, whose team had won their first 10 games of the season to reach 499, the landmark win at home on Jan. 3.

And even though the game was in Oneida, said Knapp, Red Devil Nation was out in force.

"This wasn't The Pit (VVS' home court)," he said. "But we have a lot of respect for Oneida athletics and this was a good place to win."

Knapp said he didn't expect to coach long enough to see 500 wins.

"Basketball is just a game," Knapp said. "I've learned to live one day at a time. I approach each game the same way."

Yet during the many days Knapp has coached, the game has changed him.

"I have grown softer over the years, more passive with my players," he said. "When I coached at Brookfield, I was stern and demanding. I have had roughly 200 players I've coached and I can remember all their names. I appreciate the relationships I've had during the years."

The Red Devils saw a direct relationship between their second-half defense and the victory, as the milestone had been weighing on the player's minds as much as Knapp's.

"We finally got the win for Coach Knapp, he definitely deserves it," junior guard Evan Croll said. "We knew we had to toughen up our defense in the second half because we were playing a good 3-point shooting team."

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