RUMSON – For three decades, the face of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School girls’ basketball program has always been George Sourlis.
Last Friday, Sourlis added to his head-coaching legacy as he recorded his 600th win in a 44-38 triumph over Holmdel High School.
“I’ve always just had a great supporting cast,” Sourlis said. “From my assistant coaches, to the school, and the athletic directors and the players – they are the ones that win all the games. I’ve just been surrounded by a great group of people.”
Sourlis, now in his 28th year as the Rumson coach, has led the Bulldogs to 14 sectional championships, five group championships, and five appearances in the Tournament of Champions. Last year, Rumson beat Point Pleasant Borough High School to claim the Central Jersey, Group 2 crown.
But, to Sourlis, those accomplishments aren’t what resonate with him.
“There have been some spots over the years, good and bad, that you can look back at,” Sourlis said. “Actually for me, I think a lot more about the tough losses than the good wins.”
Although there have been several key players that have come through Sourlis’ program, the game plan year in and year out has always remained a constant.
“Our formula has never been complicated,” Sourlis said. “Play as hard as you can and play as best as you can and it will work out. If you practice as hard as you can, you’ll be prepared to the best that you can.
“We like to provide life lessons for our kids. In a job, you need to always work the hardest to get recognized by your boss and get a promotion. It’s the same way for us.”
For Sourlis, his coaching strategy goes back to his playing days.
“I try to coach the way I always wanted to be coached,” he said. “I want my coach to push me and try to make me better, but to be positive, too.”
When he became the head coach in 1986, Sourlis had no intention – or idea – that he would hit the No. 600 mark.
“No, never. I never even had an inkling that I’d be able to do that,” he said.
Over the past 30 years, Sourlis has developed teams that have constantly thrown its name into that hat as one of the best in the Shore Conference, and often statewide.
“The ultimate compliment anyone can give me is to say, ‘Hey, your team really worked hard tonight,’ ” he said. “Whether you win or lose, you better play hard. The result is secondary.”
As for the future, Sourlis isn’t ready to divulge any of his coaching plans.
“My wife and children and family have been tremendous over the past 28 years,” Sourlis said. “I couldn’t do it without any of them.
“The long-term goal for us is to win the Shore Conference Tournament and to get into the Tournament of Champions. The Shore Conference Tournament is going to be a beast this year, but we just have to focus on having our kids as prepared as they can be.”