Legendary BHS basketball coach dies

Legendary Bainbridge High School boys basketball coach Dean Scherer has died at the age of 86.

A moment of silence to honor him took place at a recent home game against North Kitsap.

In 23 years, his record was 296 wins and 187 losses for a 61% winning percentage until he called it quits in 1993. He assisted another legendary BHS coach, Tom Paski, for eight years before taking over the top job in 1970. Paski’s record was very similar in the same number of years, 298-174.

Scherer was named to the state Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2013. Prior to that, he was named to the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. One of his best seasons came in his 21st season when he took the Spartans to the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome. With a 20-3 record, the squad was the Western Conference AA champions and placed third in the Northwest District.

Scherer moved to BI in 1961 and saw inequity. He asked for money for junior varsity teams because Bainbridge only had varsity at the time. He didn’t like leaving younger kids out.

The longtime middle school physical education teacher was told the school would provide ongoing support if he would raise money for uniforms. He and his wife Jackie decided on a Fourth of July pancake breakfast, and it has been a staple ever since.

After the second year, they’d made enough money to purchase the equipment. In the third year, funds were raised to start a wrestling program. At about the same time the Booster Club took over the primary organizing responsibility, but the Scherer’s were fixtures for many years after that. The event has grown so much some funds now also go to academic and music clubs.

Prior to the moment of silence, the announcer quoted Scherer as saying: “If I was born again, I would like to be born as myself, because I have been pretty lucky. The old guy upstairs did a pretty good job of me. He gave me one heck of a wife, two great kids, we had great financial success and have had spiritual success. I just think that my life has been good, and I want to repeat it.”

The announcer ended the tribute by saying: “He was a great man, a great coach, and will be remembered fondly by decades of Spartans. Rest in peace coach Scherer.”

Family life

“He was wonderful,” wife Jackie said. “We lived on Bainbridge Island forever. He coached football and baseball but basketball was his favorite.”

She didn’t want to talk much more, so lifetime friend Maxine Livingston shared some personal information about the couple.

They got together in high school and were married their senior year. “Their honeymoon was at the state basketball tournament,” Livingston said.

After going to college at Western Washington University in Bellingham, they both had successful careers with Jackie working in the banking industry, Livingston said. They had two boys – Steve and Lance.

Her husband, Mel, and Dean both took early retirement, and, “The four of us golfed constantly. We played a lot of different courses.”

They also went on a number of vacations together to places like Redmond and Bend, OR, Sun Lakes and Spokane in Washington and also to Reno for conferences.

Trips to Spokane were especially fun for both couples as Livingston’s grandkids live there. Two of Maxine’s children moved there after attending Washington State University.

She also would rent a house in Lake Chelan, and they all would go together. “They called him grandpa Dean with the ice cream” because he would always bring that treat with all the toppings.

“I’m sure they had pictures of my grandkids on their refrigerator,” Maxine said. “The four of us were joined at the hip for a lot of years.”

In retirement, the Scherer’s eventually moved to Allyn at the Lakeland Village Golf Course in 2002.

“He was really thrilled to be living on the golf course,” Livingston said, adding Jackie stayed active socially in that community.

As for being the wife of a coach, Maxine said of Jackie, “I think she enjoyed it.”

Players remember

Clay Moyle played for Scherer from 1973-75 and stayed in touch with him until the end. “His wishes were not to have a funeral service,” Moyle said, but added he hopes a memorial can take place so the community can pay its respects.

Moyle said the last 10-15 years they would talk to each other about basketball strategy. Moyle coached youth teams.

He said Scherer would even go to Spokane to watch some of his players at Hoopfest, its huge 3-on-3 summer outdoor basketball tournament. Moyle, at 64, said he still plays full-court basketball, “when I don’t have any broken parts.” He’s also gotten to know Jackie Scherer, who also went to Hoopfest. “She called to let me know when he was put on hospice,” Moyle said.

There were other get-togethers, too. “A group of us went down to a barbecue at his house” in 2010 from that 1975 team, which was Scherer’s first winning squad as a head coach. “There were some lean times those first few years,” Moyle said, adding they were young, small and inexperienced.

A number of players also supported Scherer when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Moyle said Scherer had a good sense of humor, “The kind of guy you enjoy being around.”

It was a little different when Moyle played for him. “He was a hard-nosed, fiery coach, very disciplined,” he said. “He ran our butts off. He wanted his teams to be in shape.”

Moyle said his coach stressed the fundamentals and was defensive-minded, mostly playing zone. “We spent a lot of time playing defense,” he said.

But his coach also loved the fastbreak, getting the outlet pass off as quickly as possible. “I loved playing for him,” Moyle said. “He could chew you out. He commanded respect. You weren’t going to goof off and get away with it.”

Meanwhile, Joseph Wettleson played for Scherer in the 1980s and called him a tough but fair “old school” coach.

Playing for him was “some of the most demanding times of my young adult life, but also some of the most personally rewarding,” Wettleson said.

He said they had a “love-hate” relationship at the time, but, “I deserved what he gave me because I knew how to push his buttons.” Wettleson admitted he had a “difficult personality,” as he would wear a bandana and have his boxers sticking out of his shorts.

“He had a bigger-than-life personality. He was a no b.s. guy. He helped us recognize that people are going to be in charge in your life,” he said.

Wettleson said Scherer was a caring man who wanted everyone to find their way. He was able to take a group of young men and bring them together as a team. In his senior year, they went 18-0 before losing.

“He ran us to death,” he said, adding he would be hard on you if you took a bad shot. Wettleson remembers taking shots from the 3-point line before there was one and being pulled if it was missed.

Wettleson said he randomly kept in touch with Scherer over the years. Looking at social media comments since Scherer’s death, Wettleson said, “There’s a wide-ranging love for coach Scherer.”