The Father of Athletics at Seminole State College, formerly Seminole Junior College and Seminole Community College, Joe Sterling (shown at right in the 1990s with then SCC Coach Stan Cromartie), passed away in Orlando on Wednesday at the age of 90. Sterling was the long time Physical Education Chairman, Athletic Director and Men’s Basketball Coach at Seminole from its inception in 1966 until his retirement in the mid-eighties). The ex-Marine was an early disciple of the Hank Iba system, which he learned while lettering for four years at Auburn University in both basketball and baseball. Following his stint in the military he won a state title at his first coaching stop, Greensboro High in the Florida panhandle, before moving to Apopka High School in 1951, suffering his only losing season ever, and stayed for 15 years, leading the Blue Darters to a State runner-up finish in 1953-54 and then winning the FHSAA Class A state title in 1961-62. He left with a 325-106 record after the 1966 season to start the program at SJC and led the Raiders to the school’s only state title in 1968-69 led by Sanford’s Vernell Ellzy and Oviedo’s Simon Harper. He retired as coach at SCC after the 1981-82 season with a 351-116 record, giving him an amazing 31-year career record of 676-222.
Joseph Sterling Sr.
1925 – 2015
Sterling, Sr, Joseph Joseph Arnold Sterling was born 5/4/1925 and died 7/1/2015. Born and raised near Covington, KY, Joe attended Simon Kenton High where he excelled in baseball and basketball (held the scoring record for all of Northern KY for many years). At age 17, before graduating from high school, he joined the US Marines during WWII. After the war, his athletic skills led him to Auburn Univ. where Joe lettered in basketball and baseball (served as captain) all 4 years. His teaching/coaching career began at Greensboro High in the FL panhandle. The basketball team he coached that year won the state championship. By attending classes through the summers, he obtained his Master’s degree at George Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt) where he met Jean Depp who became his wife of 62 yrs.. He also worked toward his doctorate degree at Univ. of GA. Due to his success at Greensboro, Joe was recruited to coach at Apopka High where he established a basketball dynasty that led to another state championship. Next, he was asked to develop and Chair the PE Department and serve as Athletic Director at the newly founded Seminole JC (now Seminole State). A premier program was quickly formed that led to another state championship. Seminole dominated the all sports trophy on an annual basis under his leadership (multiple national championships in track&field/tennis). Joe was a kind, humble man who was honored by having the Apopka High gym, a street, awards and scholarships bearing his name. He has been inducted into several sports Halls of Fame. Coach Sterling served the Apopka community by teaching hundreds of children how to swim in the summer recreation programs. He was a member of the Southern Baptist Church and served as a deacon and Sunday School teacher in the past. About 150 former players, students, coaches, friends and family turned up for his 90th birthday party. The family was appreciative of the showing of love, admiration and respect for Joe. Coach Sterling is survived by his wife, Jean; children, Joe Jr. (Djina) and Alice (Jeff Deen); grandchildren, Cassidy, Joey, Josh and Annie; sister, Peg Gunning; adopted family member, Lois Ann Roberts (Bob). His youngest son, Jon, passed away March 2012. There will be a Memorial service for Coach Sterling on Sunday, July 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm at the Downtown Baptist Church Orlando. There will be visitation before and after the service.