Tampa Prep boys basketball coach Joe Fenlon made it to the state final four eight times, and to the championship game four times, before his Terrapins finally won it all last season.
Now, Coach Joe finds himself in an unexpected contest: USA Today's online vote for "Best Coach in the Country."
"You know this isn't something that I asked for, but I do have a philosophy in life: if you're in it, you want to win it."
Joe Fenlon won the Florida vote, then finished 2nd in the regional vote. Coach Joe had enough votes to move him into the final round of 10.
This search began with more than 300 coaches on the ballots. Voting runs through Friday, February 6. This contest has created a real buzz for the Terrapins and the Tampa Bay community.
Coach Fenlon's athletes offer their endorsements.
Sophomore star Juwan Durham credits Coach Joe with helping him realize his true ability.
"He'll yell at you or something, then he'll look at you and give you a little wink. He's taught me how to have more confidence in myself and a lot of leadership," Juwan says.
Senior team leader Yoni Wasser is proud of his head coach.
"Coach has a lot of different personalities. There's the motivational coach, there's the angry coach Fenlon. I think most of the time coach is a people pleaser. Coach treats everyone equally, I think that's what I really like about him," Yoni says.
Joe Fenlon is in the midst of his 31st season coaching Tampa Prep hoops. He's also the middle school principal.
He jokes about his lone state championship banner hanging on the wall above "Joe Fenlon Court."
He admits he'd like more, but he's adamant he does not measure success by wins and losses.
"Success isn't on a scoreboard. Success doesn't necessarily mean your bank account is bigger than other people. Success is having a good feeling that what you do every day has meaning," he says.
I remind him it would be nice to win this contest too.
"Not bad, not bad..." Coach Fenlon laughs.
Vote for Coach Fenlon! He's not your average Joe.
Here is the link to the contest: http://contest.usatodayhss.com/vote/bball-coach-2014/final
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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