Vero Beach High School has the names of its boys and girls basketball coaches painted on a wall in the John B. Witt Gym.
For the first time in three decades, the school will need to add some new paint to the boys list.
Chuck Loewendick, the Treasure Coast’s all-time wins leader, announced his retirement Monday.
“This is my 30th year of teaching in the public schools,” Loewendick, 61, said. “I just kind of tied it together. It wasn’t a real easy year. I had some health issues, and it was a tough year for us. I think it was about time. I’ve been in basketball, playing and coaching, for close to 50 years.”
Loewendick compiled a 600-238 record in 29 seasons at Vero Beach and guided his teams to 12 district titles and four Final Four appearances. He had at least one Final Four team in three different decades.
“He’s kind of the standard of excellence,” Vero Beach athletic director Lenny Jankowski said. “He’s the epitome of it. I had always admired him from the outside looking in, prior to getting the job at Vero Beach. I always admired what he was able to accomplish from a win-loss perspective, because that’s how coaches are judged for the most part. Being here on the inside, any kid that has ever played for him has become a better person because they played for him, and that’s the highest compliment a coach can get.
“He’s an administrator’s dream and his kids play and behave right. Sometimes perception is different from reality. We don’t have the tallest kids who jump the highest, but he got the most from all his players. They played hard and if they didn’t, they didn’t see the court. You turn on the TV and it’s becoming such a me-me society in athletics and he stood for none of that. His thing was about the team first, and he created a culture teams bought in to.”
Loewendick won 627 games in his 31-year career as a head coach that started at Santa Fe Catholic in Lakeland and Miramar. He was inducted into the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches’ Court of Legends in December.
His 600th – and final – win at Vero Beach was a 56-47 victory against St. Lucie West Centennial in the District 8-9A quarterfinals on Feb. 6.
“It was a nice, round number,” Loewendick said with a laugh.
More than any win, Loewendick said he cherishes the relationships he built at Vero Beach.
“I don’t know about accomplishments,” he said. “The thing that sticks out to me is all the kids we got to work with and the great people in the administration. I had great athletic directors – I had Billy (Livings), Tim Tharp and now Lenny. I was real lucky to have real good athletic directors and I was lucky enough to work with a lot of great teachers at the school. And my assistant coaches, I was lucky to have really good assistants. The group I have now have been with me for 10 years and that just doesn’t happen in high school very often.
“The thing I’ll miss most is just the interaction with the kids and coaches – and the competition. Seeing the kids grow, getting them as freshman and getting to watch them grow and mature, not just as players but as people, and see them go on as seniors and have success after that. That’s probably one of the biggest thrills is getting to see kids succeed and grow.”
Vero Beach girls basketball coach Rahshard Morgan, who led the Fighting Indians to the Class 8A state title in 2016, played for Loewendick from 1993-95.
Morgan said he’s modeled much of his practice routine after Loewendick’s.
“I’ve said this before, Coach Loew is one of the best basketball minds in the state of Florida,” Morgan said. “You don’t get to 600 wins by accident. Defensively, man-to-man defense, him teaching it and the way he implements it and the way he gets you to buy in is like nothing you’ve seen before. I played on some really good teams, and it was a great overall experience.”