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Batavia Notre Dame's Mike Rapone goes for 600th victory

Posted at: 01/28/2013 5:07 PM
Updated at: 01/28/2013 6:02 PM
By: Robin De Wind

College basketball has focused on Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim and his 900th career win. But a local small school coach is on the verge of his own major milestone.

He is the assistant principal, the athletic director, the varsity baseball coach and has been the varsity basketball coach at Batavia Notre Dame High School for 32 seasons. But for Mike Rapone, it's not about the numbers, it's the relationships, which is what makes his 600th victory on the court such a great story.

It's the day after a 30 point win for the Batavia Notre Dame Varsity Basketball team.

Mike Rapone, Batavia Notre Dame Coach, said, “It didn't look like you were having fun, maybe it's the week off.  I think you didn't play with the same enthusiasm we played with all year, i think it will be back Tuesday.”

It's a sure bet the team will ready Tuesday.  Head coach Mike Rapone will be going for his 600th career win against Kendall, already the winningest coach in Section V. Rapone will be the first coach to reach this milestone.

Rapone said, “It makes me realize I’m not 38, I’m 59. It's humbling when you think about that I’ve been around to coach someone for my 600th.”

Rapone's winning resume hangs on the walls of the gym, but   his life resume can be summed up by junior Tim Mcculley and senior Tommy Prospero. They will be part of Rapone's 600th victory. Both their fathers were on Rapone's team for his first win, 32 years ago.

Tommy Prospero, senior, said, “We always talk about who's team was better he knows I’m better than him. My dad loved playing with him said it was the best years of his life.”

Michael Rapone Jr., Rapone's son, said, “Playing for my father was a dream.”

Michael Rapone has played for and coached with his dad most of his life. The Fighting Irish won a state title Michael's junior year. He is now JV coach.

Rapone Jr. said, “He teaches life lessons along with basketball its what I respected once I graduated.”

Rapone said, “That's the way my coaches were. You used sports to teach lessons to become better adults, people and fathers.”

Rapone may have too many career highlights to count.

Rapone said, “Winning the state title with my son on the team would be a dream of a life time.”

But his greatest achievement isn't  winning, it's been loving the people along the way.

Rapone said, “To me it's like a vacation. I love the kids coming to school every day hopefully they'll say I was good for Notre Dame that's what I was trying to be.”

Batavia Notre dame hosts K endall Tuesday night at 7 p.m