WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — At West Lafayette High School, Bill Berberian is a pretty common name. The legendary basketball coach still lives just a few blocks from the school where he coached at for 28 years. Now, he's getting the honor of his life at just the right time.
Berberian is 95-years-old and coached from 1953 to 1980 at West Lafayette. However in all of his years, he says this was his biggest surprise.
"I was not expecting it at all," said Berberian. "And at my age!"
The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame looked at Berberian's resume of more than 400 wins and is inducting him into the 2020 class. Berberian said it's all thanks to his players.
"The other day a couple of them were here and they said they were 70-years-old," said Berberian. "I said, 'You guys are 70 years old?' I couldn't believe it!"
Berberian invested in them back in the day, and that's why they're now investing in him.
"He is just the absolute standard bearer for how to treat people, and you learned that as a player and as a student of his," said Alan Karpick, President of Gold and Black and West Lafayette High School graduate. "You couldn't of had a better situation with a guy who led by example."
"You're an educator, as well as a coach," said Berberian. "You spend so much time in school with those people."
Berberian is so important to West Lafayette High School, the gym where the Red Devils play is named after him.
"I'm a basketball man," said Berberian. "I love the game of basketball."
Current Red Devils head coach Dave Wood has been expecting this honor.
"It's way past due, frankly," said Wood. "Anyone that is interested in basketball in this area knows the name Bill Berberian. And anyone who is a little more than a casual fan knows that he belongs in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame."
Maybe there was a reason it didn't happen until now. This honor for Bill couldn't have come at a better time.
"My wife passing away was a big shock," said Berberian. "And this coming right after, I think it's helped me."
Bill's wife Angie died on Nov. 15, and he says having his basketball family there for him has meant everything.
"Obviously I'm just a lucky guy, you know? Very lucky," said Berberian. "I'm lucky to have lived as long as I have and to live the great life I've lived."
Berberian was also a War War II veteran and a team captain on the Purdue Men's Basketball Team.
Purdue Men's Basketball Coach Matt Painter was among the people who wrote letters for Berberian's nomination.
A major honor for former West Lafayette HS Basketball Coach Bill Berberian! The 95-year-old is being inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (@HoopsHall)!
— Trevor Peters (@TrevorPetersTV) December 4, 2019