If ever there was any doubt Whatcom County is the center of basketball in the state of Washington, it was erased Thursday, July 28.
A full banquet room of more than 400 fans, friends, family, former players and colleagues welcomed Lynden Christian’s Roger DeBoer, Squalicum’s Dave Dickson and Lynden’s Brian Roper into the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame at a west side banquet at the Ferndale Events Center.
They became the ninth, 10th and 11th coaches with ties to Whatcom County high schools to enter the hall in what Dickson called a “love fest” for the Northwest Conference.
“It’s like Christmas in Whatcom County, only it’s better, because there’s basketball,” fellow Hall of Famer and former Sehome coach Pat Fitterer said.
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Pateros’ Mike Hull, Liberty’s Mike Thacker and Shadle Park’s Darcy Weisner were inducted at an east side banquet on Tuesday, July 26.
DeBoer enjoying journey
DeBoer admitted during his induction speech that he wasn’t exactly sure how to take the honor.
“When I first heard that I was going in, my first thought was, ‘This Hall of Fame thing, isn’t it something that is for somebody who is really, really old or dead?’ ” DeBoer said. “The reality is you are in the twilight of your career. … To be presented with an honor like this is something you don’t take lightly. To be recognized by your peers, it’s such an honor.”
In addition to telling stories from his 19 years at Seattle Christian, where he started as a “young, brash, arrogant 24-year-old with a really sweet mullet,” and his past seven seasons at Lynden Christian, DeBoer had all the men he’d coached with stand up to recognize their commitment.
“When you have a coaching job at Seattle Christian or Lynden Christian or wherever you’re at, there is a special brotherhood – a special family aspect that sort of happens,” DeBoer said.
Dickson credits players with success
Dickson had to pull double duty. In addition to being inducted Thursday, he also was in charge of setting up both Hall of Fame banquets. Because of that, he admitted he fell behind in writing his acceptance speech.
“When Roger and Brian were texting me about the length of their speeches over the weekend,” Dickson said, “I realized I hadn’t written mine yet. Mine got written when the tables went up this morning.”
Dickson was quick to credit his players, among others, for his success.
“As a coach, I never made a basket, never grabbed a rebound, never took a charge, never did the tip drill,” he said. “My players won every game for me, and I thank you all so much.”
But Dickson said he hoped he had an even bigger impact on his players’ lives.
“When you’re coaching,” Dickson said, “you want to teach them the fundamentals of the game. … As your hair gets a little more gray or there’s less of it, you realize and you hope you’re teaching life lessons to the players you get to work with. … Competitive athletics is one of the last bastions of reality left, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Roper stops to reflect
Echoing sentiments earlier in the evening from DeBoer and Dickson, Roper said he was incredibly honored to be inducted.
“Perhaps my favorite line of all time is, ‘What do we do next?’ ” Roper said. “Big win, tough fall, what are we going to do next? … This Hall of Fame thing has stopped and made me reflect.”
Particularly standing out amid Roper’s reflection were the people with whom he worked.
“As much as I love basketball, I love the people in basketball more. … That’s why we coach, is for those relationships,” Roper said.
Those relationships included both people he coached, coached with and coached against.
“Sharing (is) way more fun,” Roper said. “It’s been so fun to share this process with Dave and Roger.”