Yet, one day he went to his mailbox and found comforting words. Twenty years removed from his graduation from Peoria Manual High School, Mosley heard from his former basketball coach, Dick Van Scyoc.
“I was like, ‘How did Coach Van even get my address?’” Mosley said. “He wrote me a handwritten note. He encouraged me and said he’s following us, that he’s seeing we’re progressing every day and that he was proud. I still have the letter.”
As much as it meant in that 2011-12 season, it means more now. An icon in Illinois basketball and, especially, in Peoria, Van Scyoc died last week at 98. He leaves a legacy of victories … a good many on the court (826), countless others off it.
For Mosley, he instilled values and expectations that served him well in eight years as BHS’ head coach — a 142-91 record and a 2017 Class 3A third-place state finish — and in his ongoing role as Information Security Manager at State Farm Insurance Company.
Mosley was a ball boy in the Manual program before becoming a player, graduating in 1991 with stars Howard Nathan and Derrick Booth. His connections to Van Scyoc included living in the same West Bluff neighborhood of Peoria.
“He was my ride to school, my ride home a lot of the time,” Mosley said. “He kind of filled that gap (between home and school). I used to come to basketball camps with him. My dad (also Micheal) was like, from a basketball perspective, ‘He’s yours now.’ That shows the type of confidence people in our community had in Coach Van as a person.
“He was always present, whether it was coming to see kids play outside games, pickup games, in Peoria to making sure that kids could get to school, get to practice, get to your job. He opened my eyes to those things as well as to volunteering … going into elementary schools, reading, mentoring, serving as a teacher’s assistant.”
A Eureka native and Illinois Wesleyan graduate, Van Scyoc had strong ties to the Pantagraph area. Yet, after two seasons as coach at Armington and 15 at Washington, including a state tournament berth, he became a legend in 28 years at Manual.
His final win was the 1994 Class AA state championship game, giving Manual the first of its four straight titles. He retired as the state record-holder for career victories and now ranks fifth.
Van Scyoc coached Manual to fourth in the state in 1972, third in 1986 and 1988, and second in 1991 before winning the 1994 championship.
Beyond the numbers, the former IWU star left-handed pitcher and World War II veteran was a man who connected with students — not just players — and was willing to be whoever they needed him to be.
In 1994, when he was three wins shy of setting the state record, Van Scyoc told me how his role changed after moving from Washington to Manual.
“In Washington, parents were involved in everything with their offspring. At Manual, so many kids only have one parent and that parent is busy working,” he said. “This is where a coach takes on some extra duties.
“You have to be kind of a sociologist, psychiatrist, doctor, lawyer … a little of everything. That’s why I never wanted to get into administration. I’d rather work with the kids than the adults.”
Mosley saw it firsthand. Van Scyoc headed a vocational program at Manual and became an Uber driver before we knew what that was.
“You would see his car with four or five kids in it and he was driving them to work in the middle of the day,” Mosley said. “He dropped them off, he’d come back and would swim, he’d go pick them up and then come to practice.
“It was amazing to see his investment in us, in the game of basketball and in the school. I think that’s what made him such a bigger person than just Manual basketball. He was embraced in our city, he was embraced when we traveled to Pontiac (for the holiday tournament), when we traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio (for a shootout).”
Mosley’s rides to Manual with Van Scyoc came early. Mosley was in an honors math class that met at 6 a.m. On days Mosley did not have class, Van Scyoc would pick him up before 6 anyway and they’d go to the gym, where a young Mosley tossed basketballs to ‘Coach Van,’ who then fed them to Manual’s big men in the post.
It was all part of the discipline and organization Van Scyoc brought to Mosley’s life and so many others. Mosley marveled at his former coach’s ability “to connect with everyone and make everybody feel valued.”
Mosley sought to do the same at Bloomington and has carried it over to the workplace. The lessons from Van Scyoc live on for the former BHS coach, who completed his dual Ph.D in computer science and decision management in 2020.
Would that have happened without Van Scyoc’s influence? No way to know.
“We respect and appreciate everything he brought to each one of us, to our city and especially to our school,” Mosley said.
PHOTOS: Former Bloomington coach Micheal Mosley
Randy Kindred is a columnist and retired sports editor at The Pantagraph.