Back

Gene Pingatore

  • Sport: Basketball
  • Decade Inducted: 2010s

Head Men’s Basketball Coach at St. Joseph High School – became all time win leader in Illinois during February 2017.

Gene Pingatore was born and raised in Cicero, Illinois, the son of Annette and Frank Pingatore.   While at St. Mel’s High School, Gene was an Honors student and three year varsity letter winner in basketball and a member of the 1954 City Championship Team.

Upon graduation from high school, Gene received an athletic scholarship to play basketball at Loyola University of Los Angeles. A three year varsity letter winner, he captained the Loyola team in his senior year.

In 1960, he began a coaching and teaching career at the newly built St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois.  He served as an assistant basketball coach and social studies teacher until 1970. In 1970, Gene became Assistant Principal and varsity basketball coach at St. Joseph. From 1970 until the present, he has held various positions.  Currently, Gene works in the Development Office as Alumni Director and is in his 50th year as head basketball coach, during that time he has had the good fortune to coach many notable players, such as NBA great, Isiah Thomas.

His Charger teams have captured 27 East Suburban Catholic Conference Championships, 2 Catholic League North titles, 9 prestigious Proviso West Holiday Tournament Championships, 34 state regional titles, 13 state sectional titles & qualified for Elite Eight Tournament (7) times, capturing the Class AA State Championship in 1999.   In 2015 his team qualified for the Final Four in Peoria and won the 3A State title.  Gene became the all time win leader in the State of Illinois on January 16, 2009 with his 827th win. His record to date is 1,021 wins and 365 losses.

Gene received District Coach of the Year honors from the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association 13 times.  In 1999 he was the IBCA Coach of the Year for the State of Illinois and Student Sports Magazine National Coach of the Year. Gene was honored as Coach of the Year in the East Suburban Catholic Conference 14 times, recipient of the LaSallian Award by the Christian Brothers & is an inductee in the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, St. Joseph High School Sports Hall of Fame, Catholic League Hall of Fame, Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, East Suburban Catholic Hall of Fame and Sports Faith International Hall of Fame.

In 2005, he received the Ellie Hasan Award from the Central Officials Association of officials. In the spring of 2008 Gene was honored by the Illinois State Crime Commission/Police Athletic League of Illinois as Educator of the Year at their 12th Annual Awards Dinner.  In June of 2009, he was the recipient of the Ray Meyer Award at Ed Kelly’s Giant Award Dinner. Most recently Gene was presented with the De La Salle Award for Service and Leadership in the Community from Lewis University April, 2010. In 2011 he was named the Coach of the West for the McDonald All American Game in Chicago. In 2016 the COA honored him as Coach of the Year. In 2018 Gene received the Morgan Wooten Award for Lifetime Achievement in Coaching High School Basketball from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Also in June 2018 the NHSACA inducted him in their Hall of Fame.

Gene, a 62 year resident of Westchester, has one daughter, Lisa and three grandchildren, Erin, Kelli and Jack and a longtime partner Jill Oakley.

Gene Pingatore was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.