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Q & A with Lake City basketball coach Jim Winger

Lake City boys basketball coach Jim Winger says age is a state of mind.
Lake City boys basketball coach Jim Winger says age is a state of mind. "I’m 49 and almost 50 and I feel no different than when I was in college or in my 20s. My body isn’t the same shape but I don’t feel any differently in my mind." (Kathy Plonka)

Lake City athletic director and boys basketball coach Jim Winger wouldn’t want to do anything else than what he’s doing. On the brink of becoming half a century old, Winger began his head coaching career at his alma mater, Coeur d’Alene High. After two years there, he moved to Lake City when the school opened its doors in 1994. He’s been the coach there for all but six years. He returned as his son, JJ, entered high school. JJ is now a freshman playing basketball at Community Colleges of Spokane.

Q: Who has the toughest job in America?

A: You could name a whole bunch of things. I’ll tell you who has the utmost respect from me in my world and that’s special ed teachers and aids. They are absolutely miraculous people and some of the things they deal with are mind boggling. I’ve always said they deserve double the salary at least.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice your mom or dad gave you when you left home?

A: My dad always used to say ‘use your head, think things through’. Maybe it sounds simplistic but there’s a lot to that. When you’re young and leaving home life gives you a lot of turns and twists. When you’re facing things use your head and think it out. When I used to say to him ‘I didn’t know that’ in response to things he said, my dad used to say ‘son, they could make a whole other world out of the crap you don’t know’.

Q: What sport do you play most often?

A: I sort of have a theory. If you’re not active you can’t hurt. It’s golf for sure.

Q: Who is your hero?

A: I’m not really a person who likes to put people or especially sports figures on a pedestal. I’m not a person with that frame of mind. My mom and dad always did a great job with my brother and I and were very supportive. But I’d also say my wife and kids.

Q: What is the biggest problem facing young people today?

A: Social media. I mean that in a funny way and truthful way. I think back to when I was a kid it’s not like everybody in the 1980s or 1970s were saints by any means. But there wasn’t this appetite for instant entertainment or gratification . Not like today with Facebook and troubles we see in school with things that go viral on the Internet. It’s all done through a computer and you don’t have to look anybody in the eye. I don’t see that that’s healthy.

Q: Should athletes be role models?

A: Yes. I don’t think they should be worshipped as heroes or God-like figures. That’s scary and too far. There is a sense of being representative.

Q: Who does your laundry? Your dishes?

A: My wife because if I did it we’d probably have some problems. She’s a saint and she wants it done right. I don’t have a lot of good qualities in that arena.

Q: If you were the king of the world for a day, what is the first thing you would do?

A: I’d wave my wand and eliminate all diseases, especially cancer.

Q: Name a habit that you have that would surprise people?

A: I’m not a real exercise freak or fit as a fiddle but I really enjoy walking. I do it every day. I know that will absolutely stun people.

Q: How old is old?

A: I’m 49 and almost 50 and I feel no different than when I was in college or in my 20s. My body isn’t the same shape but I don’t feel any differently in my mind. You have to be in the upper 80s or 90s before you feel old.

Q: Are you a good driver?

A: I’m a very good driver. I tell my wife I’m in the top five in the U.S.

Q: What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? 10 years?

A: Same thing I’m doing now. I have no aspirations to do other things even in my field. I have the job that fits me best. Some days it’s a head scratcher with some issues but I don’t see any reason to do anything different.

Q: What is your favorite hobby?

A: Pheasant hunting. Without question my favorite thing to do. A lot of it I’ve done with my son and I have an extremely good hunting dog. My favorite spot to hunt is near Great Falls, Montana.

Q: If you could go to one sporting event which would it be?

A: I’ve already done it. It’s the Breeders Cup and I’ve done it five times. I love horse racing. It’s more than the betting.

Q: Name a place you would like to vacation?

A: Great Falls, Montana. I have no interest going out of country. Like to go to New York, haven’t been there. Don’t have a body that’s conducive to beaches and you can only look at the ocean so long.

Q: Best book you ever read?

A: I have a master’s degree and minor in English but I don’t have the patience now to sit down and read books. I’m not wired that way. Back in the day the best book I ever read is ‘To Kill Mockingbird’.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: My wife and I have been to one movie in 18 years. Two favorites: ‘Let it Ride’, a horse racing movie, and ‘Christmas Vacation.’

Q: Your favorite social media?

A: Don’t have any. I wouldn’t be caught reading a blog and don’t have a Facebook account. I’m a true newspaper guy. That’s my extent of social media. When I travel I buy every newspaper at airports. I have no use for social media.

Q: If you could spend a day with anyone, who would it be and why?

A: Two. Bill Parcells because I’m totally intrigued with his ability to control the New York media and control multimillion dollar athletes and run the show. Would like to know what his magic is. And Warren Buffet because everything he does turns to gold. Never seen anything like it.

Q: Tattoos?

A: I don’t have any and never will. I don’t get it. Never come close to getting one.




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Greg Lee
Greg Lee joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a prep reporter covering Eastern Washington and North Idaho schools.

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