To hear former Shadle Park basketball coach Tim Gaebe tell it, his 38-year coaching career was centered around luck.
“I’ve been a very, very fortunate individual,” Gaebe said on Tuesday following a ceremony celebrating his 33-year coaching career with the Highlanders – 15 years as head coach and another 18 as an assistant.
Before Shadle, Gaebe was an assistant at Othello for four years and served as freshman coach at Kamiakin for one year.
All told, Gaebe coached for 38 years and taught for 35. Gaebe retired at the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year.
The ceremony came before this year’s Highlanders were downed by Gonzaga Prep 76-48.
The lopsided affair didn’t diminish the pregame ceremony recognizing Gaebe and his 30-plus years of contribution to Shadle Park.
“Coach Gaebe’s done a tremendous job with Washington (high school) basketball and I know he means a lot to the Shadle community,” Gonzaga Prep coach Matty McIntyre said after the game. “It was a nice moment to be able to celebrate all of his success and all he’s done for that school.”
“It’s awesome,” Shadle first-year coach Elijah Gurash said. “I think anybody that’s served anywhere for over 30 years deserves to be recognized. He retired after the season (last season), so I thought it was only fitting that he should be honored with a send-off with his experience and his time, blood, sweat and tears put in.”
“That’s a very classy move by coach Gurash,” Gaebe said. “This was his idea. He called me in July and said he wanted to do this. I was totally honored by that. It was a totally classy move by Coach.”
Not one to call attention to himself, Gaebe admitted that it felt nice to be honored.
“You’ve retired, you’ve left, you just want to go and let them do their thing,” Gaebe said. “But then to be brought back and to have this recognition was very nice. Very, very special.”
“This is a very great honor. Shadle Park has always had a special place in my heart. There’s a lot of really, really good, strong people that came before me and I was just very fortunate to be a part of it.”
Asked if there was a highlight or two over the years that stood out, Gaebe deflected the attention to others.
“What really stands out is, I was really fortunate to work with a lot of good student-athletes, a lot of good players,” Gaebe said. “Even as an assistant coach being here, we had some really good teams and some good players.
“What I take from all this is the relationships I’ve had with all these past players, as an assistant coach and as a head coach. What really makes it special is when you see them on the street or in another city or down the road come up and give you a big hug and we share some stories. That’s really the biggest joy that I take from this.”
Gaebe added that it’s not always the standouts that make the biggest impression though.
“I see former students and they’ll come up to me and say, ‘I’m sorry Mr. Gaebe,’ and they’ll apologize if they were kind of a knucklehead (in school). We’ve all been down that road. It’s neat to see the transition of where you are, where you’ve been and where you’re going.”
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