Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

December 27, 2013

2013 Daily Progress Sportsman of the Year announced

Jay Neal
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Frankston High School head boys basketball coach Robert Loper, who resides in Jacksonville, reached yet another milestone earlier this year.

On February 8 Loper's Frankston Indians slammed Sabine, 61-41, in Liberty City, giving Loper his 800th-career win as a high school coach.

Loper was quick to say that his success has been the product of having good kids and excellent assistant coaches through the years.

Loper is now in his 48th year as a teacher.

He recently started his 39th season as a head coach, with the last 26 taking place at Frankston, where he also serves as the school's athletic director.

Loper is a graduate of Jacksonville High School. He also attended Lon Morris College and Stephen F. Austin State University.

Loper started his coaching career in Neches in 1966.

From Neches he moved on to Gary, New Summerfield and Bullard.

Following his time at Ballard, Loper decided to return home to Jacksonville where he took over as middle school coordinator.

His mentor was John Alexander, the most successful basketball coach in the history of Jacksonville High School.

Loper's first crop of eight graders went on to play on the Alexander-coached state tournament team in 1984.

Loper has also experienced the thrill of taking part in a state tournament — twice, actually.

In 1977 Loper's Bullard Panthers lost by a single point to Teague in the state championship affair.

In 2002 at Frankston, Loper piloted the Indians into the state finals where Frankston lost in the closing seconds of the game to Little River Academy.

Eight-hundred plus wins not withstanding, Loper said in an interview with the Daily Progress shortly after reaching his latest coaching milestone, that he would like to be remembered for some things other than just victories.

“It's not always about winning games that make a good coach,” he said. “I just hope (that) I have helped the kids grow and learn through hard work and commitment.”

Congratulations, Coach Loper, on being the 2013 Daily Progress Sportsman of the Year!