Russ Kaminksy ranks as one of the top high school basketball coaches in the nation and a giant among the coaching fraternity in the state of Missouri. Kaminsky compiled a basketball coaching record of 591-222. His coaching career began in 1942 in Mountain View, Missouri. Moving to Joplin in 1943, Kaminsky coached 33 years at Joplin High School and later at Parkwood High School.
Kaminksy played basketball for two seasons at Southwest Missouri State University (then known as the State Teachers College). As a football player in college he received All League honors three years in a row playing offensive end. During his senior year in 1940 he starred on an undefeated football team and received a Little All-American nomination.
As a high school football coach he posted in 99-59-9 record at Joplin High School from 1944-1961. However, it was as a basketball coach that Kaminksy receive state and national acclaim. His first Joplin state championship cam e in 1950 with a 21-3 record for Class A supremacy. The Joplin Eagles won the title again in 1955 with a 24-6 record. Coach Kaminsky’s final state championship occurred in 1967 and a 25-1 record.
Kaminsky’s 1959 team won 32 games in a row before losing to St. Louis Christian Brothers in the championship game. This team had the distinction of winning the first sportsmanship trophy offered by the Missouri State High School Activities Association in conjunction with the state basketball tournament.
School Board officials honored Kaminsky in 1970 by naming the Joplin High School gymnasium after him.
In recognition of Kaminsky’s coaching success, he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, the Southwest Missouri State University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Joplin Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
It is for his dedication, enthusiasm and passion for athletics and specifically for the sport of basketball hat the Joplin Sports Authority chose to honor him by naming this tournament after him.