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Well done Coach West


Former Portland Christian girls varsity coach Tom West, center, holding plaque, was named 2011 National Federation of State High School Associations Coach of the Year. West quit coaching after 30 years at the school. He won three state titles, going 29-0 in 2007.
Mid-county Memo photos/Tim Curran
Tom West, center, quit coaching basketball at the end of the 2011 season after more than 30 years at Portland Christian. His wife, Terrie and PC Athletic Director Dana Larson flank him.
Tom West, former girls varsity basketball coach at Portland Christian High School, was named Oregons 2011 National Federation of State High School Associations Coach of the Year in an award ceremony last month after a game at Multnomah Bible College.

West received a 30-second standing ovation from a crowd of well-wishers, ex-players, ex-students, friends and family when accepting the award, voted on by his coaching peers.

“It's an honor,” he said of the award after the ceremony. “I've had lots of good things happen to me and lots of good kids; 30 years is long enough.”

West, who graduated from Portland Christian in 1971, began working there in 1975 as the elementary school P.E. teacher. He was boys' junior varsity coach for 19 seasons with a record of 251-96 before taking over the girls' varsity basketball team in mid-season 1998. “I took over during a Christmas tournament because the coach was let go. The girls were crying. They didn't want to lose their coach. It was a horrible experience for all of them because they thought they were going to start winning with the coach they had. They were afraid they couldn't win another game because they were stuck with their old grade school P.E. teacher.” They did not make the state tournament in Pendleton that year, but West took teams to state the next 12 years in a row, an Oregon State Athletic Association 2A record.

During his tenure, West transformed the PC girls' basketball program into a dynasty. Asked the secret of his success, he downplayed his part saying, “I had great kids that wanted to get better.”

From 1998-2010, his teams won three state championships, finished second three times and third twice. In 2010, his team went 29-0, capturing the state title. The best team he ever had he said. “Overall,” West said, “that team was ranked 11th in the state in all divisions.”

Bruce McCain, one of whose three daughters who attended Portland Christian was coached by West said, “You have players who spend their whole career and never get a chance to get to the state tournament once. He took twelve teams in a row. His teams knew they were going to have a chance to win a title. His gift is adapting his teams to the talent he had.”

West said he will miss the kids and teaching the most, traveling around the state the least. “I don't miss the games very much, but I miss teaching. Teaching is what I do. Going to Nestucca, Vernonia, Knappa-I won't miss that. You know, you go down any of the highways it says Vernonia this way. And then, that way. It doesn't matter where you are, you're going to Vernonia.”

Kelsey Hill, who played for West four years, said, “He was really good at getting players to work together. He was great at teaching fundamentals to girls.” After high school, Hill had a successful college basketball career at Seattle's Pacific University and is now an assistant basketball coach at Warner Pacific College.

“I absolutely loved him as a coach. He coached my three sisters; I'm just glad we all had a chance to play for him.”
Not the dictator type coach, Hill said West's mild temperament and style fits and works really well with girls that age. “You don't want someone at that level yelling all the time.” Hill finds herself channeling her old coach. “Especially every time I jump up out of my chair and yell 'Well done!' to one of my players. That was his favorite saying after we ran a good play… 'Well done'.”
West may have quit coaching and working at Portland Christian, but he did not retire. He delivers steel supplies for a company in Estacada. “Everything has its good points,” he said.
The NFHS, which has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982, honors coaches in the top 10 boys and girls sports (by participation numbers), and in one “other” category that is not included in these 20 categories.

Winners of NFHS awards must be active coaches during the year in which they receive their award. This year's awards recognize coaches for the 2010-11 school year.
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