But the coach’s success on the court was in the spotlight Wednesday as Gaffney was honored for earning his 500th career win, with his coaches and players gathered on their home court during halftime of the women’s game against East Georgia College.
The milestone win for the coach and athletic director came Jan. 16 in a 97-91 road victory against Albany Tech.
Assistant athletic director David Mathis talked about Gaffney’s past success and a video was shown featuring players who were coached by Gaffney and fellow coaches giving their congratulations.
“I’ve been very fortunate to coach these guys,” Gaffney said during the ceremony. “You get 500 wins if you coach long enough, so that’s what that proves. Perseverance — that’s about it.”
The ceremony highlighted some of Gaffney’s accomplishments with GHC, which include leading the Chargers to four regular-season Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association titles, three National Junior College Athletic Association XVII Championships, and three NJCAA national tournament appearances reaching the Final Four in 2015 and 2016 and the Sweet 16 in 2017.
“Coach Mathis is a wonderful guy,” Gaffney added after Wednesday’s 101-83 win against the Bobcats. “He set it all up behind my back, and I got snookered today, but I do appreciate it. Somebody went to a lot of work and I’m very appreciative.”
Gaffney and the Chargers also own the longest winning streak of any college team in Georgia regardless of level with 56 wins over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, with Gaffney amassing a record of 162-70 during his time with the team.
But the number of wins Gaffney has garnered over his nearly 30 years of coaching experience isn’t what he focuses on. It’s the impact on the players he looks for.
“I don’t look at the 500 wins,” Gaffney said. “I look at the hundreds and hundreds of athletes I’ve been fortunate enough to coach — the ones that have gone to play pro, major D-I, but even the guys that have gone to play D-3 or just became high school coaches. That’s where the coach has the impact … they tell you how much you meant to them or how much you helped get them where they wanted to be. That means a lot to me.”
Gaffney shared a moment with sophomore guard Derrick Cook after Wednesday’s win during which he highlighted his appreciation for his players.
“I like to win better than to lose, but I like for him to win (pointing to Cook),” Gaffney said. “I want him to go out and win. I want him to have a great experience, and 10 years from now I want to see him as a great family man, great in his community and dominating at whatever he does.”
Prior to his seven-year stint with the Chargers, Gaffney began his coaching career in 1993 at Columbia Green Community College in Hudson, New York, before moving on to Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York, in 1998, and Guilford Tech Community College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2005.
The wins came along with Gaffney connecting with his players, and Mathis sees Gaffney as a valuable asset to the college in more ways than one.
“We were fortunate to get that quality of coach, but more importantly the quality of the individual, who is more concerned about graduating his kids than he is about winning basketball games,” Mathis said. “He built this program from scratch, and that’s not an easy thing to do. He’s made a huge difference in lives of student athletes along the way, not just here, but at all his stops. We’re fortunate that he’s a Charger.”