FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne native and Wayne High School graduate Al Gooden is on the verge of making hoops history in the Hoosiers state – and of breaking a barrier in the process.
Following Wednesday’s victory by Lawrence Central over Park Tudor, Gooden now has 499 career coaching victories in the state. One more, and he’ll become the first Black coach in Indiana history to reach 500 wins.
Gooden, who’s proficiency as a player helped him into Wayne HS and Ball State’s Hall of Fame, began his career as a head coach at Heritage in 1988. After two seasons leading the Patriots Gooden took the job at Harding High School, where he would spent the next 21 seasons. During his time at Harding, Gooden won 5 semi-state titles and the 2001 state title.
Following Harding’s closing, Gooden matriculated to New Haven were he spent three seasons and posted a 54-14 record.
For the last seven seasons he’s been the head coach at Lawrence Central in Indianapolis, where he’s gone 107-49.
Gooden credits a number of influences in Fort Wayne with helping pave the way for his life in basketball, including Walter Jordan and Eugene Parker. He also notes former assistants Bruce Stephens and J.J. Foster were crucial in making this milestone a reality.
Gooden can reach 500 wins on Friday night when Lawrence Central battles Hamilton Southeastern.