Kim Elders, Cornerstone University's head men's basketball coach started his 21st season Tuesday night defeating Grace Bible College. The victory was Elders' 500th as Cornerstone's head coach.
"Winning my 500th game is exciting," said Elders of the achievement. "I want to give God all the glory for what he has allowed me to accomplish at Cornerstone. I've had tremendous support from the CU Administration throughout all these years. I've been blessed with so many great players that have allowed me to get to this point in my career."
He refuses to take all the credit for the wins.
"My assistant coaches have played a huge role in the success of our program," said Elders, a graduate of Grand Valley State University. "Without them, I wouldn't even be close to 500 wins. I also want to thank my wife and family for all their support and encouragement."
His record is now 500-202 heading into this weekend's game.
Elders ranks seventh for most victories among active NAIA D-II coaches. His .712 winning percentage is also the fourth highest amongst the same group of coaches.
Since taking over the program in 1993, Elders' teams have averaged 25 victories per season. Five of his teams have recorded 30+ victories, including his 1999 National Championship team (37-3) and his 2011 National Championship team (34-4). Elders has also guided his teams to three other Final Four's ('01, '02 & '03) and three Elite 8's ('05, '07 & '10). His 26 national tournament victories ranks third all-time in the NAIA DII.
But, that is not all that matters to Elders. Investing in his players has been critical to his success.
"I consider myself blessed to have played for and coached under Coach 'E' for 16 years," said Jared Crandall, a CU alum who played on the team from '92-'96. "When the world judges successful coaches, they almost always define success in terms of wins and losses. And in that way, reaching 500 wins is a milestone of a successful coach. But I know that Coach does not define how successful he is as a coach based on the wins and losses of his teams, but rather on the kind of men that his players become."
Mark Zichterman, who played for Elders from 1997-'02 considers him not just a former coach, but a friend.
"Beyond being a great coach, Coach Elders has been a great mentor in my life as well as a great friend," he said. "I feel honored to be a small part of those 500 wins. He molds his players with incredible discipline that transcends far beyond the basketball court and into life. I've always looked up to the way that he has served the Lord and conducted his life and that lasting legacy will live on through his program for years to come as the many players he has influenced go on to other endeavors."
Others have noticed his coaching abilities along the way, too.
He has been named WHAC Coach of the Year on five different occasions ('96, '99,'05, '10, '11). Twice he has been named NAIA National Coach of the Year. In '99, Elders was also named the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) National Coach of the Year. He also earned Basketball Coached Association of Michigan (BCAM) Coach of the Year honors that same season.
Elders earned a Master of Arts in Athletic Administration in 1993 from Western Michigan University. He also serves as Associate Athletic Director at Cornerstone University.