Blogs / Features
Les WillseyStaff Writer, AIA365.com email@example.com
Remembering boys basketball coach Joe PartainJan 14, 2013
Arizona lost a fine man and one of its most successful boys basketball coaches on Saturday (Jan. 12) with the passing of Joe Partain.
Partain, 71, compiled a 421-267 record in a career that took him from Coolidge to Casa Grande and finally Chandler. Partain's teams won back-to-back 3A titles at Coolidge in 1976 and 1977 and added a third state title (1984) at Chandler in his third season there. Partain coached at Chandler from 1981-1995, accumulating a 202-164 recored in 14 seasons, inclduing the one title and two semfinal appearances (1988 and 1993). Partain took over at Chandler in the 1981-82 season, replacing Gary Ernst, now the state's winningest coach.
"I remember leaving Chandler in the summer (1981) and feeling so bad about it," Ernst said. "I called Joe and told him I was leaving and would he be interested. He said you bet I would...."
"Joe was a great guy," Ernst said. "His teams were tough, and so well-coached. He had a half-court trap they'd use that was hard to beat. He was a competitor. His teams played hard for him."
Jay Troutt, who assisted Partain at Chandler and still teaches there, eventually replaced Partain when he retired after the 1994-1995 season. He remembers Partain for his insatiable appetite for knowledge adn quest to be the best.
"He had a library with so many books," Troutt said. "I asked him him if he'd read them all. He said yes. He wasn't going to let anyone outwork him. He was always looking for an edge."
Partain was as polite, yet competitive as any coach I've known. His anger or displeasure was shown mostly by throwing his hands down, nothing verbal. Never a swear word. He sometimes had to be diligently sought out after losses. But when found, was congenial and and always replaying the game in his mind. Trying to fix what went wrong or how he'd approach a rematch or the next game. He loved talking basketball, particularly come playoff time when he often helped me analyze the field.
Partain left head coaching after the 1995 season and retired from the Chandler district in 2003. Arrangements are pending.