Gulfport looked out of state for its next boys’ head basketball coach and found a Hall of Fame leader from the Midwest as the right fit.
The Gulfport Athletic Department recently announced Steve Hesser as the new Admirals head coach taking over for departing veteran mentor Owen Miller.
Hesser and Gulfport Athletics Director Matt Walters were coaching rivals some years back in the Missouri prep circles.
Hesser has racked up over 700 wins throughout his career, which includes successful stops on both the high school and collegiate levels.
Most recently, Hesser retired from NCAA Division II school Drury University in Missouri two years ago after a 17-year stint that including not only winning a national championship in 2013 but also earning national Coach of the Year honors during that season as well.
His prep resume includes three high school state titles during stops in Oklahoma and Missouri before landing the Drury job.
He departed Drury as the all-time leader in career wins at the university, amassing a 354-145 record. That not only made Hesser Drury’s all-time wins leader and, upon his final game, ranked him in the top 10 in wins and winning percentage (.709) among active D-II coaches.
His Panthers advanced to 10 NCAA D-II Tournaments, reaching two Elite Eights, and won nine conference regular-season championships and three conference tournaments.
Hesser was the program’s second-longest serving head coach.
Before his arrival on Drury’s campus, Hesser spent six years as head coach at Glendale High School and compiled a 97-39 mark with the Falcons. At Glendale, he won an Ozark Conference title in 2001 and got his team to the Class 5 sectional in 2003.
In Oklahoma, Hesser put together a record of 262-142 with stops in Pauls Valley (1980-84), Bartlesville (1985-92) and Stillwater (1993-99). He coached future major league baseball player and St. Louis Cardinal Matt Holliday at Stillwater HS, and went 87-62 while winning four conference titles and made two state tournament appearances. Hesser’s Bartlesville teams won Oklahoma Class 6A state championships in 1989, 1991 and 1992 and were the state runner-up in 1988.
Hesser was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014, the Bartlesville Area Sports of Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.
As a student-athlete, Hesser was a two-sport standout at Stillwater High School, excelling in both basketball and football. He started his college playing career in both sports at New Mexico Military Academy before moving on to finish his college education, and playing days, at the University of Central Oklahoma.
After his playing career was ultimately cut short by a leg injury, Hesser finished his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State, and he earned a Master’s degree in secondary education from Oklahoma University in 1985. He also coached for one season in Norman under legendary Sooner’s hoops head coach Billy Tubbs.
Hesser takes the helm of the Admirals after Miller resigned several months to take over as the new head coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.