Three local area coaches were selected to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Class of 2022 on Monday. Two coaches were selected in the Coaches category. That included Steve Conlon (Mattoon Middle School boys basketball) and Dave Johnson (Lake Land College women’s basketball). Former Charleston High School boys and girls coach Jeff Miller was selected in the Coaches/Career category. 

Johnson entered his 24th season as the head coach of Lake Land. Under his direction, the Lakers won the NCJAA Division II National Championship. Among his other accomplishments, the Lakers have owned numerous winning seasons, top 25 rankings, and averaged 21 wins per year. 

In 2001 and 2012, Lake Land placed ninth in the nation. Before the 2021 season, Lake Land was ranked No. 1 overall in the rankings. Johnson has also been named the NJCAA DII Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, CCCI Coach of the Year, the 2020 IBCA and District M Coach of the Year, Region 24 Coach of the Year, and IBCA Junior College Coach of the Year. 

“What an amazing honor for Coach Johnson,” said Lake Land Athletic Director Bill Jackson. “Coach has developed one of the best NJCAA women’s basketball programs not only in the state of Illinois but throughout the country.  Over the past nine years, I have been able to witness his passion for the development of the student-athlete.  Coach Johnson not only wants the best for the women’s basketball program but he is always willing to help out any of our programs within our department and wants the best for Lake Land College as a whole.  Coach Johnson is well-deserving of this honor.”

Last year, Miller retired at the end of the first undefeated basketball season in Charleston history. In a shortened season, the girls finished 15-0, which was the capping point of his 248-120 record as the girls’ coach in 14 seasons. Miller won three Regional titles, owned eight seasons of 20 wins, and made the Sweet 16, including an undefeated 27-0 regular season on route to finishing 29-1. 

Miller, a 1979 Charleston grad, taught for 24 years at Charleston. He began his career at Ashland (now Ashland-Franklin Center), where he coached boys basketball from 1986-1988. He then joined Cumberland Junior High in 1988-1989 before going to Windsor where he coached the boys’ team to a 70-84 record in six seasons, including a 19-9 year in 1991-1992. 

He returned to his alma mater in 1995-1996 where he was the freshman boys’ basketball coach. After coaching the junior varsity coach, he took over the varsity boys job where he accumulated a 40-92 record in five seasons. Overall, minus two years at Ashlan, Miller is 358-296 (.547) in 25 seasons.

“Coach Miller is very deserving of induction to the IBCA Hall of Fame,” said Charleston High School Athletic Director Derrick Zerrusen. “With 19 years as a head basketball coach for Charleston, he is an important piece of our athletic history. He had greater success in the Girls’ Basketball arena, with 8 20+ win seasons, 3 regional championship wins and culminating his career with an undefeated 15-0 season during the 2020-2021 school year. Congratulations on a well-deserved award.”

Conlon is a former Mattoon High School boys basketball coach that has coached cross country, boys basketball, and track. Mattoon Middle School Athletic Director Jamie Sharp says that Conlon is one of the greatest when it comes to coaches at MMS. 

“He’s the G.O.A.T. when it comes to MMS coaches,” said Sharp. He retired a few years back from teaching, but he still coaches for us, and I am thankful for that each day. I have known Steve Conlon for 22 years.  I’ve coached track with him, worked the scoreboard when he coached baseball, helped him run cross country meets and worked the table over the years at his basketball games. Steve has never been about the scoreboard – believe me, he comes to compete and wants to win, but his focus has always been on developing the person and the athlete, helping them be a good person in whatever they do in life and helping them perform at their best on the field or the court.”

Sharp said that this award goes past his accomplishments as a coach, but what he has done in the eyes of the kids he coaches.   

“He gives kids a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and that helps change them for the better,” said Sharp. “It’s also about his passion for athletics and the sports he loves.  I see parents of those same kids he has coached over the years push their kids to play for him because they know he will teach them persistence, self-determination, discipline, work ethic, leadership skills, and heart.  To that end, he is constantly reading and taking courses or workshops to better himself as a coach and mentor.”