Jim Hastings, the longtime Duluth Central boys' basketball coach who led his team to three state titles, died on Saturday at age 90.
In a Duluth News Tribune obituary, former players and others remembered him, including the legendary Chilsholm coach Bob McDonald, who is retiring this season after 59 years of coaching. “Deep down, I thought I would like to be like him,” he said. “I don’t know if I could have copied him exactly, but he was always dressed well and had a discipline about him that commanded attention from his players, the fans and the other teams. I always appreciated that about Jim. If there were an icon that I would like to pattern myself after, it was Jim.”
Hastings' teams won one-class titles in 1961 and 1971, and won the Class AA title in 1979. His teams won 541 games in 31 seasons and were part of the era when many coaches had high profiles in their communities, even in Minnesota's larger cities.
Duluth Denfeld activities director, Tom Pearson, who played for Central and coach the team from 1994-2007, told Rick Weegman of the News Tribune: “He was Central basketball. As a kid growing up, you wanted to play for coach Hastings and that was the bottom line. You wanted to play for him because he represented what Central basketball was.”
Hastings graduated from Two Harbors High School and played college basketball for Minnesota Duluth. A memorial service is planned for May in Hermantown.
“I’ve been asked to name my best moments in coaching, or my best players, but there are just too many good things that happened to me,” Hastings told the News Tribune a few years ago. “I’d have to have at least 25 fingers and toes to list everything.”
You can read the entire obituary here.