Rock Bridge tennis program pursues Hall of Fame induction
COLUMBIA - Rock Bridge's tennis program is chasing history.
The boy's team has won four straight state titles, the girls have won five straight.
This stretch of dominance has landed the team a nomination for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
One person has coached all of these teams: Ben Loeb.
He has etched his name into local high school sports with a culture of heart and success. His players smile when they talk about him.
"We all joke with him because he has all these different words and phrases that he uses. It's things that he's come up with over time that have really helped other teams and has helped us as well," Rock Bridge senior Corinne Farid said.
Sandy Kinkead is senior Mary Hose's grandmother. She has watched the team's prestige grow since Mary Frances' freshman year, and thinks all the credit belongs to one person.
"I want to thank Ben Loeb. I think he has been very good for the team, for Mary Frances, and I hope they take state again this year," Kinkead said.
Loeb is a legend in his own right. Already a MSHOF inductee, he has coached tennis in the Columbia area for over 30 years.
He began coaching at MU in 1986 and bounced around for a while before he landed at Rock Bridge in 1994. He's remained there ever since.
For Loeb, coaching comes down to achieving success together.
"My favorite part about being a tennis coach is investing with other people together and trying to achieve great things. And if you have enough people that really value trying to bring out the best in themselves and the best in the group, it is gratifying to chase dreams and chase goals together," Loeb said.
He attributes the program's recent success to the commitment shown from the student athletes.
"The biggest factor in having a lot of success is having student athletes commit to this sport and it really means a lot to them," Loeb said.
This success culminates with the school's quest for a spot in the MSHOF. Loeb says this honor would make all of his personal accomplishments pale in comparison.
"Quite frankly, it would mean more to me if our program were elected to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame because that is a we thing. And I have always valued we over me or I," Loeb said.
This character is valued by the election committee. High character is one of the primary factors to being enshrine, according to MSHOF.
If elected, the ceremony would take place in Columbia in November.
This would be Columbia's first high school program elected to the MSHOF.