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Kahok Basketball Coach And Announcer Seka Earns IBCA Hall of Fame Honor

Can you coach two different teams in the same game? Well if you’re newly elected IBCA Hall of Fame career coach Jim Seka, it turns out your answer is…almost.

“I started my coaching and teaching career at Emge Jr. High in Belleville,” Seka recounted about his start in 1972. “I started out as the 5th grade coach. I actually coached two 5th grade teams at the same time. One was from our school at Emge and one was from our sister school at Ellis. Emge went undefeated and Ellis had one loss.”

Seka had a parent coach his Ellis team in the game between his two ball clubs, but it was certainly a memorable start to his 33-year career.

Even more remarkable is that the 1965 Collinsville High graduate didn’t even play basketball at any level for Vergil Fletcher’s Kahoks.

He held student season tickets to CHS games all four years of high school and immediately purchased adult season tickets upon graduation, but he never saw the Kahok floor competitively.

“I loved basketball but I wasn’t the right size,” said Seka.

While he never suited up for Fletcher, he does have a fond memory of taking part in practice.

“I was sitting on the stage watching basketball practice going on before I went out to the baseball diamond,” said Seka. “Rodger Bohnenstiehl (the future Kansas University star) played for Collinsville at the time, Rodger was the center of course, and Rodger had a habit that he’d catch the ball up high but he’d bring it down low before he turned around. Vergil looked at me and said, ‘Hey Seka, come here. I want you to stand here in front of Rodger and every time he brings that ball down I want you to just hack him across the wrist.’ So that was my job until baseball started.”

Not only did Seka play baseball for CHS, but he also played football. His coach: Vergil Fletcher.

“Coach…I never saw him get excited,” began Seka about Fletcher. “He was just an even- going, calm personality. (He was) always there to teach.”

That influence on Seka was readily apparent as he shared his favorite memory from his coaching career.

Seka’s memory was from the 1980s when he was the 8th grade coach for Emge. They were playing one of their last regular season games at Belle Valley, the top team in the Belleville area that year.

“We wound up going into the 4th quarter tied,” said Seka. “I remember there were about three minutes to go on the clock. Now before the game, I had promised our kids donuts if they won. I called timeout and the kids were around me and I’m down on my knee diagramming this and that. All of a sudden I hear one of the players go, ‘donuts, donuts,’ and the whole team starts joining in. They’re not listening to me, they’re chanting donuts! So I said, “ok let’s go,’ and they went out and they won the game.”

Seka and some of the players on that team still keep in touch and they refer to it as “The Great Donut Game.”

At around this same time, Seka began working at Fletcher’s summer basketball camps in Collinsville. While coaching these camps he met future Kahok coach Bob Bone.

“When he (Bone) took over at Collinsville, he had an opening and asked if I’d be interested and I said, ‘of course,’” Seka said.

While keeping his teaching job at Emge, he coached and moved up through the ranks as a CHS assistant. However, he was always an assistant for varsity games.

The Collinsville staff at that time was loaded with not only great players but also great coaches. At one time the bench had three future IBCA Hall of Fame coaches in Bone, Steve McFall, and Seka.

During Bone’s 20-year tenure at CHS, they went 360-201.with 13 regional and three sectional titles. Their 1992 squad made it to the Class AA state quarterfinals before falling 53-51 to the eventual undefeated state champions Maywood (Proviso East).

Seka counts that season as one of his best memories in coaching.

“Going to the state tournament in Champaign with (future Illinois four-year starter) Richard Keene,” said Seka. “It didn’t turn out well because we lost, but it was just really thrilling to be up there. Of course, I had gone up there in ‘65 as a spectator when the high school team went. Then to go back as a coach, it just really was impressive.”

Bone has great admiration for his former assistant.

“Jim is certainly deserving of the recognition by the IBCA,” said Bone. “He was an outstanding assistant coach during his years at Collinsville and was a big part of the success we had. Jim always was willing to do all the behind the scene things that make a program successful. He is just a tremendous coach and better person.”

Seka retired from teaching in 2003 but remained on the CHS staff until Bone moved on after the 2005 season.

It was toward the end of his career that he received a pair of honors not many coaches can claim. In 2000 he was an assistant coach for the Class AA South team at the IBCA all-star game then in 2003, he was named an AFLAC National Assistant Coach of the Year.

Since his retirement from teaching English, he has remained an active part of the Collinsville athletic program. He spends time over the Holidays as an announcer for the Prairie Farms Holiday Classic and is the long-time public address announcer for Kahok football.

While his PA career is still active, it is his teaching and coaching career and the people he worked with that mean so much to him.

When looking back on his coaching career, Seka wanted to thank several of the people he worked with on the CHS staff. He thanked Bone for giving him his shot at the high school level. Seka went on to thank fellow assistants Tim McChristian, Joe Muniz, Dennis Pace, and Steve Roustio.

While he remains ridiculously understated about the quality of his own career, preferring to discuss those who helped him, current CHS Athletic Director Clay Smith provided the necessary insight into his impact as a coach.

“The IBCA got this one right with the induction of coach Seka in the Hall of Fame,” began Smith. “Coach Seka has made an impact on many lives in the Kahok basketball program. I am fortunate to have had coach Seka as one of my Kahok basketball coaches while in attendance at CHS, and now have him work for the Kahok Athletic Department.”

The IBCA Hall of Fame banquet has yet to be scheduled due to the COVID-19 restrictions that are currently in place and the uncertainty surrounding the opening up of gatherings in the state of Illinois.

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