Dick Katte was the head basketball coach for Denver Christian High School for 48 years. A Calvin College grad and a member of Third CRC in Denver, he coauthored a new book about his life inside and outside the gym called Over Time: Coach Katte on Basketball and Life.
Q. When you first started coaching, did you expect this to be the career you would have all your life?
A. I never let time constraints be part of my career. I was motivated by a desire to help young people become what God gifted them to be. God richly blessed my efforts, so I just kept on. I was never driven to reach a certain number of years or wins.
Q. What did your student athletes gain from being on the team, other than basketball skills?
A. I think every coach must intentionally teach (coach) for life after basketball. Several of my most memorable moments were reminiscing with former players about life applications from the game. It was amazing the lessons they carried over.
Q. According to your story, as a young coach you had to learn to be a mentor and a teacher, not a friend. Have you seen situations where the "friendly" coach has had difficulty trying to lead a team?
A. Yes, young people need a model and mentor who care enough to confront—not just a friend.
Q. In your book, you mention that your athletes learned good sportsmanship partly from the relationships among coaches and officials in the league. Is that unusual or different from how you see relationships in other leagues?
A. I believe that the emphasis of our school and our league made us leaders in the sportsmanship around the state—we were the model!
Q. How have high school sports changed over the years? What's better, what's not?
A. Because of the great influx of entertainment opportunities, not as many young people are captivated by sports. Those who are, are really captivated.
Q. Have expectations of coaches changed?
A. Not as many coaches today are educators, so the expectation is not to "grow people."
Q. You have faced a couple of major medical issues—a brain aneurysm and cancer—that have given you a renewed appreciation for a healthy life. What's your take on the current concern about sports injuries, particularly concussions?
A. The medical issues were a timely reminder to me that sports and success are NOT to be "our life"—I was reminded that God is in control. Some of the current concern and emphases are a reminder that life is more important than the game, and that we must keep a proper perspective in our expectations of participation.
Q. How did your spiritual life inform your role?
A. I think I became a better coach when I realized there were things out of my control—that God is in control.
Q. How do coaching and teaching methods carry over into parenting skills?
A. As a parent, teacher, and coach, I found that if I have reasonable expectations, children, young people, and players will live up to them.
Q. What advice do you have for parents who are just beginning to introduce their young children to sports?
A. Let them enjoy the game—to play because it's fun, not to be praised or scolded.