Walter Bachman is used to talking about his team's chances of winning a county title around this time of year -- not discussing himself.
But this season marked a special milestone for the Jericho boys basketball coach, even if his impressive streak of postseason appearances came to an end.
For the first time in 18 years, according to Bachman, the Jayhawks did not make the playoffs. But in the final game of the season, on Feb. 10, Bachman became only the 10th coach of a Long Island team to win 400 varsity boys basketball games.
"It's special," said Bachman, 64, who also serves as the Section VIII (Nassau) basketball coordinator. "I'm the 10th guy on the list from Long Island. To say that and see some of the names I'm now with, it really hits home. I remember one of my first or second wins came against Joe Lettera, who is on the list (405 wins with Roslyn), and who I learned so much from."
These days, it's Bachman who is the one doing the instructing and there aren't many who are better to learn from than him.
"That's what drives me," Bachman said. "To have the opportunity to teach younger coaches, along with players, means so much to me."
Bachman previously coached at Valley Stream North from 1979-1991, before accepting the job to lead Jericho in 1992. His career record is 400-271. He is 301-122 at Jericho.
"And the only reason why I left VSN was because on Tuesday and Friday nights I wanted to see my son play for Jericho," Bachman said. "The principal at VSN allowed me to do it even though I was the school's athletic director at the time and I'm still grateful for that experience."
The Jericho basketball community is indebted, too.
Under Bachman, Jericho has won one Long Island championship, five county championships and eight conference titles. From 2005-2008, Jericho won at least 20 games each season.
"My life is coaching," said Bachman, who was a high school social studies teacher. "My retirement life is so enjoyable because of it."