WOOSTER, Ohio -- From the McLeod Tartan and “Scotland the Brave” to the March through the Arch and Braveheart-like entrance into athletic competitions, tradition has an important place in the history of The College of Wooster.
And nowhere is that tradition more evident than inside Timken Gymnasium, where Coach Steve Moore has guided the Fighting Scots to 17 North Coast Athletic Conference titles and 24 NCAA Division III Tournament appearances in the his 30 years at the helm of the program.
“It’s a good feeling to know that you have a successful program, and it’s more than just the coach,” Moore said. “It’s the players. It’s the fans. It’s everybody involved, the trainers, the equipment people to have that culture of people that has everybody contributing and wanting to continue that success, not only in terms of wins and losses, but successful in terms of just having a class program, doing it the right way and involving a lot of people taking pride in the program.”
The approach has certainly done wonders for both Moore and Wooster.
Since taking over the program, Moore has amassed 709 wins, and coupled with his six seasons at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, he has 796 victories, which ranks him second among coaches in NCAA Division III history.
“It just means I’ve been able to coach for quite a while, and during all those years, we had good players,” Moore said. “Everyone knows that players win games, and if you don’t have good players and you don’t have good talent, no matter how hard you coach, how hard you work at it and how well you coach, you’re not going to win games. You can have talent and not win, but you can’t win without having talent.
“Really, at that time, when I was first hired at Wooster and started that first year, I really didn’t think of anything else beyond the first year. We just wanted to see how well we could do that first year and how much improvement we could make. It was a year-to-year thing, and really, it’s been a game-to-game thing that first year, and it’s really the same way we approach it to this day.”
Although Moore has been on the winning end of more than 77 percent of the games in which he has coached, the veteran of 11 25-win seasons, three trips to the Final Four and a National Championship game appearance in 2007 “most definitely” still gets butterflies when he leads the team onto the court.
But Moore believes he has a much better balance of nerves and confidence than in his early days as a coach, and that is a reason for his success in 30 years with the Fighting Scots, who enter Saturday’s regular-season finale against Wittenberg University with a 17-7 overall record and 11 victories in their last 12 games.
“You have to have confidence and confidence in your players, and that’s one of the things I learned over the years, to have more confidence in your players,” Moore said. “I’m a guy that’s kind of always concerned about the opponent and knowing that these guys can play.
“Early on, I was too concerned and didn’t have enough confidence in our players, so I think you have to have that combination. You have to respect your opponent, but not fear, not worry about losing so much, but prepare and do everything you can to put your team in a position to be successful.”