As a guidance counselor and the head boys basketball coach at Manual High School, Derrick L. Booth has regular opportunities to change lives, both on and off the court. Even as he leads the historic Manual basketball team to victory, he is also helping students chart the next chapters of their lives on a daily basis.
During his nine years at Manual, Booth has led the team to three Mid State 6 Conference championship titles. He has been named the IBCA District 12 Coach of the Year four times, a recognition based not only on his team’s record, but also on how many students he helps send to college each year. In 2010, he was honored with the ELITE Public Servant Award for his continuous efforts to put education before sports.
Outside of school, Booth and his brother run the Booth Basketball Academy every summer for children in the Peoria area, helping to build up kids’ intangible soft skills as well as their athletic skills. This year, he was able to make a positive impact on the lives of more than 200 young men and women who participated. He also devotes a great deal of his time to the St. Paul Baptist Church Audio-Visual Ministry and the revitalization of the Carver Community Center.
Setting his expectations as high for his students as for himself, Booth insists that his players excel in the classroom, even if that means sitting out the big game once in a while. After earning his master’s degree at Bradley University with a perfect 4.0 average, he expects nothing less than their best.
Not only is Booth an invaluable asset at Manual High School, he is also a leader in the local community. Long before Peoria’s “Don’t Shoot” campaign got off the ground, Booth had committed his life’s work to guiding the young men under his charge — and there is certainly no role more vital than that. iBi