Former Berkley High boys basketball coach Steve Rhoads, left, is pictured next to current coach Joe Sermo prior to a recent game. Berkley honored Rhoads by having “Coach Steve Rhoads Night” Feb. 13.

Former Berkley High boys basketball coach Steve Rhoads, left, is pictured next to current coach Joe Sermo prior to a recent game. Berkley honored Rhoads by having “Coach Steve Rhoads Night” Feb. 13.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Berkley High recognizes former boys basketball Hall of Fame coach

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published February 20, 2018

BERKLEY — Before he had a night dedicated to him by Berkley High, former boys basketball coach Steve Rhoads was already in some pretty select company.

Rhoads coached at the school from 1971 to 1998, and his achievements included helping lead the program to 390 victories, seven division championships, eight district titles and one regional championship.

Rhoads was selected as Coach of the Year 16 times and was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in 2005.

And then came “Coach Steve Rhoads Night” Feb. 13, when he was recognized on the court prior to a game against Ferndale High.

“It’s incredible,” Rhoads said. “It’s like a nostalgia trip. The number of players over that long a period (of) time at one school, and all the terrific experiences, memories, relationships — unbelievable. Just the best.”

Before Rhoads even took to the microphone to speak, former players were gathered around him away from the court, where smiles and hugs were shared. The kind of bond that Rhoads has with former players and coaches who were part of the program is more significant than all those accomplishments that occurred on the basketball courts.

“I think it’s more about the people, the players, than it is about the wins and losses,” Rhoads said. “The relationships that have evolved from that are lifelong and incomparable.”

While all of Rhoads’ achievements are pretty solid evidence that he’s a man who knows his basketball, what he taught applied to more than just a game.

“I’d like to think if you had the opportunity to be in our program while I was coaching, you walked away with an understanding of work ethic,” Rhoads said. “An understanding of unselfishness, being part of a project, a program, a goal where you embrace others and you do it collectively, without the focus being on yourself. If you can walk away with those values, I think (it’s) very beneficial.”

Current coach Joe Sermo played for Rhoads from 1993 to 1997. You can count him as someone who benefited from more than just Rhoads’ basketball knowledge.

“Tremendous basketball mind,” Sermo said. “But aside from what people see with X’s and O’s, wins and losses, it’s more along the lines of he was a man of integrity. (He) demanded teamwork, work ethic (and) leadership. He taught the kids that played for (him) amazing life lessons, aside from the X’s and O’s that we forget 20 years later.”

Sermo isn’t the only one of Rhoads’ former players to go on to coach.

“I’m so blessed,” Rhoads said. “At last count, I was able to identify 40 players that have gone on to coach at the secondary level, in high school or higher. … We get together regularly, and it’s tremendous.”

As a former player for Ferndale, current Eagles coach Tom Staton played against Berkley when Rhoads was coaching. Staton also coached against him after Rhoads went to Madison Heights Madison in the years following his tenure at Berkley.

“We go way back,” Staton said. “It’s so good to see him. … A great basketball mind.”

Rhoads said coaching is what he knew he wanted to do and that he was “blessed” to be able to do it. And while it has been a big part of his life, it’s not his only source of joy.

“I’m doing a pretty good job of taking life easy,” Rhoads said.  “I still play a little golf; I follow sports. … Life is good. Got a great wife, live in a good community. Got a dog I love to death.”