The timing couldn’t have been better.
Instead of playing Bishop’s – one of his fiercest rivals – in an empty gym, Francis Parker was able to admit fans to basketball games for the first time on Tuesday.
That fact was not lost on Parker’s coach Jim Tomey, who thanked his family – wife Annemieke and daughters Lauren, Maddie and Suzanna – for their support after securing his 500th career victory, a 52 -50 biting nails.
Tomey is the sixth San Diego coach to join the 500-win club, with Ray Johnson (El Camino) leading with 792. The others are John Singer (Helix), Tom Tarrantino (New York, Carlsbad, Army-Navy, Bishop’s , El Camino), John Olive (Torrey Pines) and Mike Haupt (St. Augustine).
Johnson, Olive and Haupt are still active. Tarrantino takes a little time, but intends to practice again.
“I missed a lot of family things to coach basketball,” Tomey said after the game. “I can’t thank them enough for their support. They put up with a lot of things.
Two other families were intimately involved in Tomey’s 500 wins – 210 at University of San Diego High, 290 at Parker.
The Waltons – brothers Luke and Chris and cousin Kam – have been involved in nearly 100 victories at the Uni. Luke and Chris are the sons of Hall of Famer Bill Walton. Kam is the son of NFL lineman Bruce Walton, Bill’s late brother.
Brothers Kimo and Vinny Ferrari were part of 57 wins at Parker, and Vinny is just a junior.
“Luke’s mom (Susie) is my godmother,” said Kimo Ferrari, a first-year Brown University basketball player who is home for the summer. “So I would bet the Waltons have more wins than the Ferraris.
“Between families, we have been involved in many victories, and I am proud of it. Coach Tomey is able to get the most out of everyone he coaches.
“He’s smart. If we didn’t have a match coming up we would train hard, we would chase him. If we had a match coming up we went light, we saved our legs, but we worked on the mental part of the match.
Tomey’s 400th career victory was a home game in January 2015 against La Jolla Country Day and coach Ryan Meier, who is now at Mount Miguel.
Meier left Parker for La Jolla Country Day, opening the position in Tomey.
“What an incredible achievement 500 is,” Meier said. “And a lot of those 500 people were against me.
“He not only turns his guys into good players, but into men, husbands and fathers.”
The mental part of the game has not escaped Luke Walton, who played 10 years in the NBA and is now the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
“Jim, you are a great man, coach and father,” Walton said during an impressive post-match video tribute put together by Parker athletic director Anthony Thomas.
“Now that I’m a coach, I realize how difficult it is to do what we do.”
Tomey spent 10 years as a head coach at Uni, leaving to join Steve Fisher’s staff in San Diego State. After three years, Tomey was appointed Head Coach of the SDSU Women’s Program in 2002.
This was not a good solution, however; he resigned after three years and a 25-58 record.
Soon after, he was hired at Parker.
“I was lucky,” said Tomey, who played college in eastern Michigan. “All I ever wanted to be was a teacher and a coach. So I was blessed.
“And I’ve been fortunate to have great players and families along the way, families like the Waltons and Ferraris.”
Kimo Ferrari said Michael Clark, Tomey’s assistant coach for 10 years and a man who played for Tomey at Uni, is a big part of Parker’s success and is part of the family.
Dozens of Tomey’s players continued to play in college, including Kimo Ferrari (Brown), Dalante Dunklin (UC Santa Barbara, Metro State, San Diego Christian), Chris Walton (San Diego State), Luke Walton (Arizona) , Josh Merrill. (UC Santa Barbara), Matt Blakely (UC Santa Barbara), David Abramowicz (San Diego State) and Evan Fitzner (Saint Mary’s, Indiana).
“Coach Tomey had a positive impact on me,” Fitzner said in the video tribute. “I don’t know if I’m a college player without him. These 500 victories bear witness to this. “
At 62, how long will Tomey be coaching? Will he see 600 victories?
“I love the practice, I really love it,” Tomey said. “So as long as I’m having fun, I have players who love the game and want to learn, and I have an administration like the one we have here at Parker, I will continue.”
San Diego’s Best Boys Basketball Coaches
792 – Ray Johnson * (El Camino)
751 – John Singer (Helix)
600 – Tom Tarantino (New York, Carlsbad, Bishop’s, Army-Navy, El Camino)
538 – John Olive * (Torrey Pines)
521 – Mike Haupt * (Saint-Augustin)
500 – Jim Tomey * (USDHS, Francis Parker)
490 – Mike Collins (Chula Vista)
488 – John Farrell (Torrey Pines, Bishop’s)
465 – Fritz Ziegenfuss (Patrick Henry)
461 – Dave Cassaw * (La Costa Canyon)
440 – Dennis Kane (San Diego, Mission Bay)
434 – Tom Williams (Morse, Serra)
404 – Bill Peterson (Lincoln, Kearny, Saint-Augustin)