NELKE: Remembering Dean, and his dream job

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Some of us learned a few things about Dean Lundblad the other day, at his celebration of life.

While he was head basketball coach at Coeur d’Alene High, an era that spanned 16 seasons, for a time he spent summers driving a beer truck.

Problem was, it took him longer to make the rounds than it did for the other beer truck drivers, because at every stop he’d make, folks wanted to talk basketball with him.

He was an avid collector, with many vintage automobiles proudly displayed in the “car barn.”

One of the people he invited to come speak at his basketball camp was Phil Jackson, who went on to have a pretty good coaching career of his own.

And while he grew up in Dover and was a standout athlete at Sandpoint High, graduating in 1957, Lundblad’s “dream job” was to be head coach of the Coeur d’Alene High boys basketball team. And for the Coeur d’Alene-born Lundblad, who passed away on April 3 at age 78, that dream became a reality in 1968.

“In those days, Coeur d’Alene was the place to be,” said Duane Ward, who took over as Sandpoint High boys basketball coach in ’68. “We were all 5A, we were all in the same league — Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, Lewiston, and eventually Moscow and Kellogg and Wallace and Bonners — and they were the powerhouse of the league in basketball.”

WARD, WHO retired recently after some five decades of coaching in Sandpoint, remembers coaching against Lundblad in his three seasons. He remembers the Bulldogs beating Coeur d’Alene his first year, when he had a strong team led by Jack Parkins, Chris Clark and Scott Wyatt. But he also remembers games where Dean and the Vikings “whomped us.”

One thing was a constant, Ward said.

“Dean always had his kids prepared, very well-prepared teams all the time,” Ward said. “Hard working, and a lot of fast-break.

“Well-disciplined, and well coached. Any time you played them, he was going to run this stuff, and he relied on good execution. There weren’t any gimmicks; they just came out and did what they do ... ”

And it was up to the other team to stop them — which didn’t happen much in a time when Dean took 13 of his 16 Viking teams to state, played for the state title four times and won state once.

Ward, 74, remembers chatting with Lundblad before and after games, recalling him as “very congenial ... very courteous and very pleasant.”

But during the games, there was that intensity ...

“When I was in junior high (in Sandpoint), I watched Dean play basketball and watched him play football (in high school, for the Bulldogs). And I remember back then, he was a tough competitor, a really good athlete. And I think a lot of that carried over with his coaching,” Ward said.

“He was very intense, very competitive. Didn’t mind voicing his displeasure with (questionable) calls.

“I think that Dean was just a student of the game, and he always scouted his opponents really well. So the thing that sticks out in my mind is, his teams were so well prepared.”

MARK PARISOT played for Dean Lundblad at Coeur d’Alene High, and said he’s been fortunate to know Lundblad and his family since the 1970s.

“I knew him as a father to my friends, a teacher, basketball coach and friend,” Parisot said. “He impacted many lives while trying to balance those roles.”

Parisot, like Ward, remembers Lundblad as a “student of the game,” influenced by legends including John Wooden, Cotton Barlow and Elmer Jordan.

“The handbooks we received at the beginning of the season were about more than basketball,” Parisot said. “He was also trying to positively influence lives. He volunteered much of his time and money on this. He was close with many players and I know several that he was a father figure for. He made big differences in their lives and staunchly defended them when they were having troubles.”

When Lundblad volunteered on short notice to take a regional team of high school basketball players to a tournament in Taiwan, filling the void left by another USA team that had dropped out, Parisot recalled being part of that trip.

“Of course he had no idea how he would make that all come together, but that didn’t make him hesitate when the opportunity was presented,” Parisot recalled. “He put a small team of coaches and managers together and took a boys and girls team, spending several weeks in Taiwan playing and touring the country, while also getting some history lessons on Taiwan from him in teacher mode. It was a great opportunity and growth experience for all of us, and still amazes me that he would so easily take it on with a few adults and a couple of dozen teenagers.

“Some of my best friendships and times of my life have evolved from those times,” Parisot said, “and I will always appreciate the role he played in that, along with his friendship and trust.”

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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