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A basketball life

Another mid-November and hoops season is upon us. I'll be helping coach both girls and boys teams a few days a week. Games start next week, but there might not be too many games in their schedule due to some Covid restrictions. It's been a rough couple of years for these kids. They've only had a couple of games over the past two seasons. This year looks better and they expect to play a lot more, but I'm not sure how many games makes a full season. I'm guessing about ten total.

I started with organized basketball around age eight or nine. I vividly remember sitting in the elementary gym with Don Seanor giving us all a speech about how important basketball was at Marion Center. Our high school didn't have a football team for a good portion of the seventies and eighties because a boy died on the football field, so we played a lot of basketball. I was into it immediately, and I was good at it. I was tall at an earlier age and the basketball coaches saw potential in me. I think they hoped I would grow to my brother Dale's size. He would have been great, but he didn't like the coach and it wasn't his thing. I ran into Don at the Marion Center Speedway last year during a visit and he remembered me immediately. "David Shick! You could make a left handed layup!" Don's the announcer at the track now. I remember when he drove a race car there. BeeHive 5 was his number. Our schools mascot was the Stingers and Don bled MC green and gold.

I missed three years of hoops from grade six through eight. When my mom moved us to Washington I stopped playing basketball. It was a tough time for me. Five different schools in five years. I never had more than a couple of friends. I was very quiet and just tried not to draw attention to myself. Basketball would have been great for me. I'll never forget wanting to go to a summer basketball camp one year in middle school. My brother was visiting from Pennsylvania and my folks were taking him to Snoqualamie Falls for their world famous breakfast. I chose not to join them because I wanted to play basketball. They dropped me off at the school and left. They camp was canceled. I was at the school alone. There was no one there. I walked about 8 miles home. Good times.

In high school I turned out for the freshmen basketball team after not having played for years. The coach posted a list of fifteen names on the locker room door. I was number fifteen. The list was obviously a ranked order with the best players first. I was number fifteen. A moment that's burned into my brain. I didn't get to play much, but I liked to go to practice and I was dedicated. Another rough year at school. I actually made a friend on the basketball team. Sadly, he died in a car wreck. His mom was supposed to give the two of us a ride to practice on a Saturday morning. When they didn't show I called their house and got the news. Again, it was another tough year.

Sophomore year was better in terms of basketball. I got to play a lot of JV and scored a lot of points. It lead to playing varsity my junior and senior seasons and two years of dominating intermutal basketball at Peninsula College. Oddly enough, my mom went to exactly one game I played in high school. It hurt pretty bad when she told me I wasn't great like Dale was. My stepdad Stephen went to a lot of games. I appreciated that.

I got into teaching with the idea that I wanted to coach basketball. After three years of coaching track I got to be the girls JV coach and varsity assistant for four years. My buddy Jennifer was such a great coach I realized I wasn't the right person for a head coaching job. I was a great assistant. I liked watching film, designing offenses, and specializing in working with post players. Fortunately for me we had monsters in the middle of our team. We walked the ball up the court, played great half court defense, and pounded teams in the paint with our size. We slowed games down and reduced the number of possessions in a game. It was a dream basketball scenario for me. It's probably why I like Pete Carroll in Seattle so much. We share a same philosophy. Great defense and a methodical offense. Offense and defense that compliment each other.

We made the final four back to back years including a title game in my last year. After being down eighteen late in the game we made a huge comeback. A three pointer from deep behind the nba line tied the game. And then we lost in overtime. Ouch. It capped an incredible week. You know those games were a team mobs all over each other on the court? We had three of those in a week. Finally beating Nooksack Valley after getting swept by them during the regular season. Ending Lynden Christian's 56 game winning streak to win a District title. Crushing Connell to to make the title game against Ephrata. We only gave up twenty four points in the Connell game to set a state tourney record. Losing the title game in overtime left some scars.

I got out of coaching when Moira was born. I knew I didn't have a future in it because my exwife wasn't into it. She wouldn't have minded if I was involved with basketball, but coaching at this level needs a family commitment. Basketball is a huge time commitment and all the successful coaches I've seen have their families involved. I went to practice to work with post players now and then. I ran the clock during a lot of games on weekdays (never weekends). Hanging out with Durk during games was great. He did the book. We always had fun working games together.

I ran open gym at Meridian High School for about 20 years. Great memories of that. I would love to do that here at Hangzhou International School when hoops season ends, but I don't think there's enough demand. Also, my achilles problem isn't getting better. I'm getting nervous that I might have damaged myself permanently. Crap. It's getting better slowly. Maybe it's just going to take more time. We'll see. That's my hope for now.

I've lived a basketball life. I still watch Kansas basketball games religiously. I've seen them win three national titles. Been a fan ever since Danny (Manning) and the Miracles. I'll have to see how coaching goes here in Hangzhou. It may be that the game has changed too much for me to really contribute. The three point line is an integral part of the game now. It's not better or worse, just different.

Damn. I guess I had a lot to say about basketball. It's been an important part of my life. I'm thankful for it.

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Mike Durkee
Mike Durkee
Nov 19, 2022

If it were not for basketball and the GREATEST high school coach in Stan Nelson (in my mind the greatest coach ever) I would most certainly be dead or at the very least in prison. Weird how sports and a wonderful coach can transform lives, I've told Shane on more than one occasion, "If I had a kid that played hoops, Shane would be the coach that kid would play for." Dave, I have no idea how you did the clock, no idea at all! I would get into the game at times I would have totally messed up on the clock. Those were some good times... and oh by the way you and Chilly made a great coaching duo.…


Thanks for sharing this part of your story. I have a somewhat similar one but with baseball.


Week one almost in the books here. We have some great depth at guard but we are young. Let me know if you have a transfer for me.

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