Episode 8: Jim Drengwitz (Pontiac Holiday Tournament)

December 15, 2017

(Episode 8: Jim Drengwitz the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament)

In this episode we meet Jim Drengwitz, who for years has been the director the oldest Holiday
high school basketball tournament in the state of Illinois. What it takes to run such a successful
tournament and attract such high level talent is an excellent lesson to pay attention to. Pontiac
is considered by many as the “crown jewel” of high school tournaments and we will look at the
teams, players, coaches, and volunteers who have helped make it so.

In the first part Jim talks about the history of Pontiac. We find out the tournament’s origin and its
development over the years. He then goes on to tell us some of the secrets to putting on such
an affair. Not surprising to our listeners, culture and relationships are two of the main
concepts. Jim even draws on the reality show “Bar Rescue” to underline some points. (On a
side note and shameless plug, that reference tied in nicely with the first chapter of my new book
on Amazon, The Turnaround Coach. OK, now I’m done!) He puts an emphasis on
connectivity as well, making sure to speak to as many people as possible, no matter how badly
the day was going.

In the middle segment we discuss the top teams, players, and coaches of the tournament.
Derrick Rose (NBA), the Douglas brothers, Jabari Parker (NBA), Cliff Alexander, the
Manual entourage, Michael Payne, Walter Downing, Iman Shumpert (NBA)…and on and
on, are some of the payers discussed. Top teams such as Chicago Simeon and Curie, West
Aurora, Benet, etc. are also focused on. Finally the coaches, including greats such as Bob
Hambric , Gordie Kerkman, Bob Basarich, and Wayne McClain, and some newer guys like
Gene Heidkamp and Robert Smith, get the once over.

The last section looks at the lessons learned by Jim from the years of association with all of the
people involved with this great undertaking. We discuss what makes some of the teams so
successful and it all then comes back around to culture and relationships. Simple truths that
are sometimes overlooked in our effort to find complicated solutions for everything today. We
also get his surprise players who went on to big things from the Pontiac experience. So sit back
and grab a listen…and maybe use it to whet your appetite for seeing some good basketball this

Thanks to Audio Out Studios (Peru, IL) (www.audioout.org)

GUESTS: Jim Drengwitz
HOSTED BY: Scott Olson
CONTACT: lessonsfromthearena21@gmail.com or jscottolson21@gmail.com