When Lynden decided to name its football stadium “Rollie DeKoster Field” in 1989, the Lions did so because they wanted longtime coach Roland “Rollie” DeKoster’s name deeply embedded into Lynden football.
Every successful program starts with a strong foundation, and DeKoster long ago began what now is a football power in the Northwest corner of the state.
“I would say big perspective — I wasn’t here when he was coaching — but the legacy he left has a lot to do with the success that has followed,” Lynden Athletics Director Mike McKee said in a phone interview.
Lynden Athletics lost one of the most decorated coaches in school history Tuesday morning, March 11, as DeKoster died in his Lynden home, three days short of his 80th birthday. DeKoster, born March 14, 1934, was 79.
DeKoster was born and raised in Lynden and competed in football, basketball, baseball and track at LHS. He graduated from Western Washington University in 1957 and began his 28-year coaching career at his high school alma mater in 1962.
DeKoster coached baseball for 24 years, compiling an overall record of 282-153. During the span he won 12 league titles while guiding the Lions to six state tournaments. He was voted Class 1A Coach of the Year in both 1973 and ’76.
He also coached junior varsity basketball for 23 years and in 1972 completed his goal of coaching in all three seasons by taking over a struggling football program in 1972.
DeKoster truly left his imprint on the football field.
“At the time when Rollie took football over, I think there was a year they weren’t even going to have it,” McKee said. “He resurrected it by getting support from the community.”
During his 17 seasons coaching the Lions, DeKoster led his teams to 11 league titles, eight state playoff appearances and won Lynden’s first football state championship in 1980. DeKoster put together a career record of 141-32.
DeKoster was selected to the Washington State Hall of Fame as both a baseball and football coach. He is also a member of the WWU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Lynden High School, in 2008, inducted DeKoster into its inaugural Hall of Fame class.
DeKoster taught history and physical education at Lynden until he retired in 1989 after more than three decades in education.
More recently, DeKoster compiled a commemorative booklet about old-time lumber mills in the Lynden area. The stories and photos focus on 10 mills in and near Lynden that were in business from the turn of the century to 1930.
At his request, no services will be held.
“Lynden is a place, like most Whatcom County communities, that has a lot of history and heritage is a big deal,” McKee said. “Our community has a lot of hurt for the loss of Rollie and a lot of people’s hearts go out to his family.”
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.