Heavy hearts prevailed throughout the Illinois high school girls basketball world Tuesday with the passing of Derril Kipp, the fifth-winningest girls basketball coach in state history who helped bring Maine West High School a state title.
Kipp, 71, led Maine West's girls basketball program for the past 35 years and logged 788 wins with the Warriors, third-most by any coach at one school. His 1987-88 team won the Class AA state championship, posting one of the few undefeated seasons (35-0) in IHSA girls basketball history.
Kipp was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year. A "celebration of life" tribute will be held Saturday at the Maine West spectator gym, his second home.
"The family would like to share a celebration of Derril's life with all who have supported us with your kind words and generous praise of a coach, husband and father," said Kipp's wife, Marianne, who rarely missed a game, home or away.
The celebration will take place from 2 to 7 p.m., with stories to be shared at 4 p.m.
"We would like you to share stories and memories with us at Maine West, as we will share ours with you," Marianne said. "We are hoping to have the opportunity to reminisce with Coach Kipp's collections of books and photographs that he kept.
"Your appreciation and respect for him is mirrored by his respect and appreciation for you."
Kipp entered the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001. His teams won 26 Central Suburban North championships, 24 regional titles and 10 sectionals, and they appeared in the state tournament seven times from 1983 to 1993, the year his Warriors were state runners-up.
Nearly 80 girls from Maine West's program have earned scholarships since Kipp took over the program in 1981.
"Derril Kipp is a legendary coach," Maine West Athletic Director Jarett Kirshner said. "His influence on the sport of girls basketball stretched across the nation."
Maine West Principal Audrey Haugan praised Kipp as well.
"Coach Kipp's influence spanned decades and across thousands of students, athletes and colleagues. In the classroom and on the court, students learned both academic and life lessons," Haugan said. "The impact of this loss is widespread, and his status both in and out of the sport will be remembered for a lifetime."
The Warriors drew top billing statewide and from the Chicago TV media when they set an IHSA record of 65 consecutive wins from Feb. 28, 1987, to Feb 13, 1989.
Kipp also coached the Warriors to 110 straight conference wins.
He started a summer league at Maine West in the 1980s that attracted nearly 100 teams at one point.
"He is certainly one of the pioneers in women's basketball in the Northwest suburbs," former York coach Don Hudgens, whose Dukes team was the runner-up to Maine West and Kipp in 1988, said last week.
The summer league was held in the same spectator gym where the celebration of Kipp's life will be held Saturday.
"His summer leagues changed the culture of girls basketball in the area and the state," Kirshner said.
Fans of Kipp have been posting to a Facebook page dedicated to him since his cancer diagnosis was revealed. Many former players praised him for helping shape their lives.
"You not only taught me how to play but how to believe in others, give people a chance and lend a helping hand," wrote Michelle Galindo, a member of the 1997 team. "You believed in me and gave me so many opportunities."
Jamie Pekoe Dickens, a player on the 1993 team, posted: "You always stood by our sides and never gave up on us, being a father figure to some, best friend to most, and an amazing coach to all."