Jeff Debell grew up in Pequannock and as a youngster played basketball for the high school. Today, he is the boy’s basketball coach and in early January, racked up his 250th win.
A humble man, Debell didn’t give too much thought to 250 wins. This game is a team sport where the players work together and leave it all on the floor when they play.
On Jan. 12, Pequannock defeated Roxbury 56-46, giving him 250 wins.
“It’s not just me,” Debell said “It’s the coaching staff and the players that I’ve had the opportunity to coach. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to win 250 games.”
Debell, 48, of Oakridge, has been a basketball coach for 21 years. He spent his first seven at Eastern Christian High School in North Haledon and at the same time, was teaching physical education at the elementary level in Pequannock.
When the job opened up in Pequannock 14 years ago, he was offered the position and immediately took it.
“I coach where I went to school and played basketball,” Debell said. “It’s an honor.”
According to Debell, he credits a lot of his success to his late father Frank and his former coach, Jack Moran. His dad was a principal, coached basketball and even scouted for him. Moran’s love for the sport helped him become a coach and the two still keep in touch today.
“He (his dad) really loved working with kids,” Debell commented. “That kind of rubbed off on me.”
Debell graduated from Pequannock High School in 1988 and obtained his degree in physical education from William Paterson University in 1992. As soon as he reached 60 credits in college, he began coaching the middle school girls basketball team in Pequannock.
The coach explained that he can teach kids x’s and o’s all day and watch film, but it’s really about how the kids bond on and off the court. Once the players gel as a unit, they will succeed, he said.
Besides achieving 250 wins, his best season was 2010 when the team won sectional state championships and lost in the state finals.
“It’s not about the wins and losses, it’s about the relationships,” Debell remarked. “I try to treat it like a family. Once it’s in your blood and in the system it’s hard to walk away. When it’s not fun anymore it’s time to give up.”