Jane Heil’s life and career has centered around basketball.
The sport has been a longstanding tradition in her family since she was a young girl. Heil grew up in the gym watching her father, Leo Appiani, coach the Medford High boys team, and her love for the game took over from there.
Now having made an illustrious career for herself as the highly successful head coach of the Peabody High girls basketball program for the last four decades, Heil will be recognized for her devotion to the sport and success of it. She is set to be inducted into the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame this weekend.
The banquet will be held Sunday at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.
“This honor which I will be receiving belongs to dozens of wonderful family, staff, players and friends — not to mention the entire administration at Peabody High for their support for so many years,” said Heil.
“I bumped into a former player recently and she congratulated me. I told her that she’s part of it; hundreds of people are part of it.”
The storied coach, who celebrates her 66th birthday today, enters her 33rd season with the Tanners this winter, having coached the squad for half of her life. She coached for 18 years, took four seasons off to watch her own daughter, Kristen, play basketball at Beverly High, and has been back behind the Peabody bench for the last 15 winters.
Currently, Heil’s coaching record is 512-167. That’s with four years off between 1995-99 as well as the 2004 season, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yet Heil still managed to be with her team for every practice and game while undergoing chemotherapy and later radiation.
“If one lives long enough and coaches for this many years, has the talented players and dedicated staff that I’ve been blessed with, milestones will happen,” said Heil after notching her 500th career win last December. “So many players, parents, coaches, family and friends have helped contribute to these wins through the years.”