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The Stricklin effect

Riverhawk coach adds 700 victories to storied career
Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Riverhawk coach adds 700 victories to storied career

Umpqua Community College will never have to worry about hindsight following a 1995 decision that made Dave Stricklin, head coach of its women’s basketball team.

Now into his 19th season, the success of UCC basketball is evident. What is hard to calculate is the profound effect coach Stricklin’s had with players on and off the court.

Stricklin was born into a family of basketball. His father Richard played for Seattle University alongside one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NBA, Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. Stricklin’s dad became a basketball coach leading to some of his son’s fondest memories. “I would get to go to the gym with him every day. We would shoot before and after practice.”

After high school he attended Brigham Young University on a basketball scholarship. At BYU he earned a bachelor’s degree and took an assistant coaching position with the women’s program.

Stricklin earned his first head coaching position at Goldenwest Community College in Huntington Beach, California. Goldenwest became synonymous with success.

In eight seasons Stricklin’s teams won seven championships. They won just more than 90 percent of their games finishing with a record of 259 wins and 27 losses. This resulted in  Stricklin becoming the fastest basketball coach in community college history to win 200 games.

In 1995, Dave Stricklin became head basketball coach of the UCC women’s basketball team. Success was immediate. In coach’s first season they broke 14 school and NWAACC records finishing 25-8. The following year UCC won the 1997 NWAACC championship defeating Clackamas in the finals. The year 2000 ushered in a season of near perfection. UCC finished 31-1, and brought home another title by eliminating Spokane.

To date, Stricklin’ teams went to the postseason in 16 of his 18 years at the helm. On Jan. 4, 2014 coach attained his 700 career victory when the Riverhawks defeated Portland 78-63. The victories and coaching accolades gained over the years have never been a main goal, however.

“My number one job has been to help players get better and put them in a position to succeed while helping those that want to continue playing and continue their education. The wins are a byproduct of that,” Stricklin said.

Wins are not the most important byproduct of coach’s time spent at UCC. More than 100 student athletes have left Stricklin program on scholarship to four year schools. “Dave has taught me not to make excuses, on or off the basketball court,” freshman Ashli Payne commented.

Kyndal Charleston stated, “The best coach I ever had. He eats, sleeps and breathes basketball. My basketball IQ and confidence have improved under his program.”

Stricklin’s former/current/future players can take solace in his commitment to UCC and its players by not moving onto other coaching opportunities.

“Sure I have wondered if the stuff we are doing here could translate to different places.” So why not move into the world of big-time women’s college basketball?  “Family has been a part of it. But I’ve stayed over the years because I tell the girls, ‘You be committed to the program, and I’ll be committed to you,’” Stricklin responded.

That commitment resonates with his players. “He cares so much, that is what I think makes him so successful. We feed off his energy. I love that no matter what, he stands up and will fight for you. He always believed in me despite everything else. That makes me want to be better and try harder because I want to make him proud,” sophomore Asia Smith stated.

“I love coach Dave’s dignity and desire to win. He has taught me to be humble and hungry,” Mana Inocencio commented.

Coach Stricklin and the Riverhawks journey to bring the NWAACC championship back on campus March 1-4 in Kennewick, Washington.