High School Basketball

He’s organized the Hall of Fame banquet for 8 years, but this time he’s an inductee

Squalicum coach Dave Dickson talks to his team during a timeout in the Class 2A State Boys’ Basketball Championship game at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Dickson coached in three straight state title games, winning titles in 2009 and ’10.
Squalicum coach Dave Dickson talks to his team during a timeout in the Class 2A State Boys’ Basketball Championship game at the Yakima Valley SunDome. Dickson coached in three straight state title games, winning titles in 2009 and ’10. The Bellingham Herald

This will mark the eighth straight year Squalicum boys’ basketball coach Dave Dickson has organized the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame’s west side banquet.

But none of the previous seven will be like the one he’ll put on Thursday, July 28, at Ferndale Events Center, and it’s safe to say none that follow will resemble it, either.

This year, Dickson is organizing an event that will not only celebrate the career of two close friends and colleagues – Lynden Christian coach Roger DeBoer and Lynden coach Brian Roper – but also honor his own 22-year coaching career. All three will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“I think coaches and teachers labor for the accolades and recognition of their students,” Dickson said. “The last time I can remember something like this, where people gathered and I was part of the focal point, was my wedding.”

There’s no doubt Dickson deserves the honor.

22 Seasons coaching, including the past 10 at Squalicum

351 Career coaching victories

.660 Career winning percentage (351-181)

11 State tournament appearances by his teams

5 State trophies won by his teams

2 State championships won by his teams

His 351 career wins at Oak Harbor, Bellingham and Squalicum rank him ahead of 76 coaches already in the Hall of Fame. And that doesn’t count the impact he’s had on countless young players and students.

“I didn’t know a person who didn’t want to work hard and play well for Coach Dickson,” said Keith Stackhouse, who was part of Dickson’s squads that won back-to-back Class 2A state titles in 2009 and ’10. “You want to win for Dickson, and you want to work hard for him.”

Stackhouse, who graduated in 2010 and now lives and works as an auditor in San Diego, says the job Dickson did coaching the 2009-10 teams may have been one of his best.

Stackhouse was part of an extremely talented group that came up through the youth ranks together, and after helping the team finish third in the Class 3A tournament as sophomores, the team was turned over to that group when they were juniors.

“We all had individual dreams we wanted to accomplish on the basketball court,” Stackhouse said. “Dickson found a way to mesh all of us and all our dreams together into one common goal. He got us to be team-oriented.”

The Storm went a combined 52-2 those two seasons.

Coaching is teaching. That’s what coaching is. It’s teaching with the volume turned way up. It’s a classroom and an opportunity to educate.

Squalicum boys’ basketball coach Dave Dickson

Even more impressive was the next season, when Dickson led a team with five new starters to an 18-9 mark and back to the state championship game before it lost to Clover Park, giving Squalicum four straight top-three finishes.

Dickson said he fell in love with the game when he made his first shot in his first organized game in fourth grade, and to this day, he signs most of his emails “Yours in Hoops.” He was a self-proclaimed “gym rat” as a player and has become like a chess grandmaster immersing himself in the strategy and every other aspect of the game.

“When I was in high school, I was on the high school chess team,” Dickson said. “It’s funny, when I was a young coach, I used to move the chess pieces around the board to play different basketball strategies to see how they would look offensively and defensively. I do enjoy the X’s and O’s of the game. I really like the strategic side.”

He is very strategic. He’s always thinking about tweaks and set plays. A mad scientist is a good description. He sees the big picture of the game, and breaks it down to its smallest parts.

Lynden athletic director Mike McKee, who coached with and hired Dave Dickson as head coach at Squalicum

DeBoer said he calls Dickson “Doc,” not only because of his “mad scientist” approach to the game, but also because “if you look at one of those old sketches of Dr. (James) Naismith, Dave looks a lot like him.”

One of the most vital parts of the strategic side of the game is being prepared for every opponent and anything they could throw at you.

“I always felt so prepared for each and every game,” Stackhouse said. “We had a good team, but Dickson made sure we were ready for anything. He never took a game off.”

But Dickson coaches for a much bigger purpose than winning games or even state titles.

You see him get emotional sometimes. He’ll start double fist pumping and going crazy like a bear. He’s very energetic about the game, and that trickles down to the team.

Former Squalicum boys’ basketball standout Keith Stackhouse

He’s a teacher at heart, and wants to make sure every one of his players is better prepared for life after high school, whether it includes basketball or not.

“I hope that a kid that spends four years in our basketball program learns how to be a better teammate,” Dickson said. “I hope he learns passion and enthusiasm are important in life. I hope he learns that sweat in the bucket is a key to succeeding in life, no matter what. I hope that he walks away with some great memories that are lifelong memories and that that person learns to have joy in what they do.”

Thanks to Dickson, 22 seasons’ worth of high school basketball players can say they got exactly that.

Dave Dickson bio

High school: Mariner (Everett)

College: Whitman College (graduated in 1980)

Coaching career: Coached the C-team at Cascade, before teaching for two years at Ballou Junior High in Puyallup. He then served as an assistant at Ferndale for four years before landing his first head coaching position at Oak Harbor in 1987. Four seasons later, he was hired at Bellingham and led the Red Raiders for seven seasons before becoming the first coach at Squalicum in 1998. He stepped down after that inaugural season, but returned a few years later as an assistant to Mike McKee, who hired Dickson to replace himself in 2006 when he stepped away from coaching.

Personal: He and wife Jamie have three children – Allison, Aaron and Adam – and eight grandchildren.