Iconic Manual coach Dick Van Scyoc dies at 98

Dick Van Scyoc, the legendary coach who built Manual High School into a basketball power, died Friday afternoon surrounded by his wife, Karen, and daughters Gwen and Jan. He was 98.

Van Scyoc won 826 games overall in 44 years as a coach, most notably as leader of the iconic South Peoria program. The man many called “Coach Van” won 501 games at Manual in a 26-year career that ended with an Illinois state championship in 1993-94.

“I give all my players and assistant coaches a lot of credit, too,” Van Scyoc said in a 2009 Q&A with the Journal Star. “It wasn’t all Van Scyoc, but a lot of hard work by a lot of good people went into those 826 wins.”

Also nicknamed “The Godfather,” the hall of fame coach retired while ranked No. 1 statewide in boys basketball coaching victories; four coaches have since passed him. Manual won three more consecutive titles after he retired, each under the late Wayne McClain.

From the archives:2009 Q&A with legendary Manual coach Dick Van Scyoc

Van Scyoc is a native of Eureka. He began coaching Manual in 1966 after coaching boys basketball at Armington and Washington. He led Washington to the state finals in 1962. His Manual teams finished second in AA in 1991, third in 1986 and ’88 and fourth in 1972.

Former Manual High School basketball coach Dick Van Scyoc waves to the crowd as Derrick Booth presents him with a plaque for his years of service as a coach and teacher at the school from 1966-1994 at a ceremony Dec.  18, 2009 in the Manual High School gym.

How a promising pitcher ended up coaching on the court

Van Scyoc graduated from Eureka High School in 1942 and seemed headed for a career in pro baseball, according to a 1994 article from the Chicago Tribune. The Boston Red Sox sent him to their Class D farm in Danville, Virginia. Van Scyoc, a left-handed pitcher, “stuck it out a whole month,” wrote the Tribune.

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