BORN TO LEAD: With next victory, JWCC’s Hoyt moves into tie for first on school’s all-time list
QUINCY (WGEM) - Mike Elbe remembers the game well.
He said it was a day in March 1995 when one of his players -- a sophomore guard from Quincy Notre Dame named Brad Hoyt -- turned into a coach.
During the 1994-95 season, JWCC was in the third year of having a collegiate basketball team under the direction of Elbe and earned a spot in the NJCAA Div. II National Tournament in Danville.
After losing it’s first game to Redlands (Okla.), the Trail Blazers were matched up with the College of DuPage in the consolation bracket.
Let Mike Elbe pick up the story.
“About eight minutes into the game, Justin Elbe (JWCC player) was whistled for a technical foul. At the time, I had never heard Justin say a foul word. The official told me he set the ball on the floor and should have handed it to him and that I better sit down and shut up.
“I went off. Got two technicals in about 30 seconds and was ejected from the game. The first time that had happened to me in my career.
“Anyway, I departed and the game went on. Over the course of the game, Brad started to act like a player/coach ... like Dave Cowens with the Boston Celtics back in the day.
“I was told he was leading timeouts and a coach on the floor and the sidelines and I truly believe the players were looking to him for leadership and direction.
“That when I knew Brad had coaching in his blood and it has shown in every sense for me as a player, an assistant coach and now as the leader of the Trail Blazer basketball team.
“I know from a multitude of experiences with him, he is the best basketball coach to ever have walked the sidelines for JWCC.
“He gets the absolute most out of his guys, he makes the guys a lot better and the bottom line is he wins games and plays the best basketball when it means the most -- in March.”
Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers lost that game to DuPage but came back to beat Alfred State (N.Y.) and finish seventh in the national tournament.
Like his former coach Elbe -- who also served JWCC as athletic director and president until his recent retirement -- Hoyt is in his 13th year as JWCC’s basketball coach. The program has had just three coaches in 31 years with Jeff Moore also serving a five-year stint.
Elbe compiled a 246-165 record during his tenure at JWCC. With a victory Wednesday night at Lincoln Land Community College, Hoyt can tie his juco coach as the school’s all-time victories leader.
Hoyt is 245-154 at JWCC and was 29-62 during a three-year stint (2006-08) at Culver-Stockton College for an overall mark of 274-216. The Trail Blazers are 11-9 heading into Wednesday’s Mid-West Athletic Conference game.
During his career, Hoyt has led the Trail Blazers to four national tournament appearances in 2013-14 (Sweet 16), 2014-15 (2nd place), 2018-19 (6th place) and 2020-21 (Sweet 16).
His resume is expansive.
Hoyt has won numerous Coach of the Year honors, including conference (2014, 2015, 2018, 2020), region (2014, 2015, 2020, 2021), district (2014, 2015, 2019, 2021) and IBCA (2014, 2015, 2019, 2021).
Hoyt has coached:
- Eight conference and region players of the year;
- Eight NJCAA first or second team All-Americans;
- 25 all-region selections;
- 28 all-conference picks;
- Four conference freshman of the year selections.
Bob Sheffield is in his eighth year as Hoyt’s assistant coach and gets a daily up close look at the head coach’s methodology.
“I know Brad would say that he did not win a single game; that his players did. But I would disagree,” Sheffield said. “I believe Brad’s success is because he is passionate, committed, knowledgeable, and has the ability to get players to believe in themselves and something bigger. He genuinely cares for his players on and off the court.
“When recruiting, he considers more than a player’s ability and stats. He talks with the player’s family to get a better understanding of the young man and his values off the court. Brad has high expectations for all of his players as well as himself. His success is measured in more than wins and losses on the court. His ultimate goal is for his players to become successful men in whatever they choose to do after basketball.”
Sheffield is spot on.
If you would ask Hoyt about his success, he would credit his assistant coaches and players -- as well as his family.
It’s not easy devoting the time needed to being the head basketball coach as well as athletic director on the collegiate level while being a husband and father of three on the homefront.
After all, there are only so many hours in a day.
“Brad really tries hard to be at the kids’ events when he can,” said his wife Nikki. “He would volunteer to coach the boys teams and give up his spare time to help out and be a part of their experiences.”
Brad and Nikki, who will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this summer, met at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where both played basketball and earned their bachelor degrees.
They have three children Sydnie, 21, a senior at Lindenwood University; Jake, 18, a senior soccer and basketball player at Quincy Notre Dame: and Luke, 12, a sixth-grader at St. Peters following in his older brother’s multisports footsteps.
“When we got married, we weren’t necessarily planning on Brad coaching,” said Nikki, who owns Studio 4 Well Body and Mind in Quincy. “But we came back to JWCC and went from there.
“It was much harder when the kids were little. But we just always figure things out to get everybody to where they need to be and we just go from there. He’s an amazing father.”
Both Brad and Nikki’s parents also provided support and inspiration, cheering on the Trail Blazers through victories and losses, both home and away and creating a family atmosphere.
Hoyt’s many players have loved playing for him and what he meant to their careers at JWCC as well as their post-JWCC lives.
“After playing for Coach Hoyt for almost a full season he has helped me in a lot of ways,” said freshman forward Jeremiah Talton, the former QHS all-stater.
“He has pushed me to become not only a better basketball player but also a better man. Just by me knowing that he has the best interest for me and wants to see me be the best version of myself I can be has helped me also throughout this season.”
“Coach Hoyt has meant a lot to my basketball career,” said Chandler Bevans, a 2019-20 NJCAA All-America second team selection, who is now at Metropolitan State (Colo.).
“He taught me how to be disciplined and continue to evolve my game. Coach Hoyt shaped me into a college basketball player and without him I wouldn’t still be playing today.”
Jarvis Jennings, who was a two-time NJCAA All-American at JWCC the past two seasons, is now at Southwestern (Kan.).
“Coach Hoyt meant a lot to me in my career,” the Columbia, Mo., native said. “Coach Hoyt was able to help me in all aspects of life, not just basketball. He helped me change my ways, changed the way I think, by doing that he turned me into a young man.
“Now I am able to get through life and my chapter at Southwestern with the knowledge and lessons he has taught me in those three years I was with him.”
Over the past five seasons alone, JWCC has finished first or second in the MWAC four times, had four conference/region players of the year, four NJCAA All-Americans, five region semifinal appearances and five regional final appearances.
All of these accomplishments have been achieved with Hoyt turning over a two-year junior college roster every year blending in newcomers with second-year veterans.
His team building recipe is a mix of Quincy kids (Talton, Aaron Shoot, Garrett Gaddeke, Justin Bottorff, Carter Cramsey), area standouts (Gabe McKenzie, Cory Miller Jr., Bevans) and national recruits (Jordan Johnson, Aziz Fadika, Jennings).
So what makes Hoyt’s program at JWCC so successful?
“It’s the standard he holds people to,” Bevans said. “We were held to a championship standard in the classroom, on the court, in the weight room and out in public. Everything we did was done the right way and it showed on the court.”
Or maybe the person who knows him best, his wife Nikki, said it best.
“Brad was meant to coach,” she said. “That’s what he does.”
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