The 2013-14 girls basketball season could not have been scripted any better. It was a storybook ending for former Lynden Christian High School girls basketball Head Coach, Curt De Haan.
In the northwest corner of the state, the name Curt De Haan is synonymous with girls basketball and success. After capturing his eighth State Championship in 2014, the coach who spent 34 years at the helm of one of the most dominant high school girls basketball programs in the country was named the NFHS National Coach of the Year.
Prior to the start of the 2013-14 campaign, De Haan disclosed to his inner circle that it would be his final season. He decided to alert his team, his community and the rest of the state about his decision sometime after the final horn blew at the 2014 State Basketball Championship game.
|Former Lynden Christian Coaching Legend, Curt De Haan, was named the NFHS National Coach of the Year for his State Title run during the 2013-14 season.|
“I knew before the season that this was going to be my last,” De Haan said in a telephone interview. “I had some blessings in the season and being named the State coach of the year allowed me to coach in the all-state game, which then brought me up for a nomination for the National Coach of the Year.”
The road to the State Championships was not one without any bumps. With mid-season losses to 1A defending champion, Brewster, and perennial powerhouse, Cashmere, De Haan knew much work was needed before the team reached the State Tournament.
Despite the losses, Lynden Christian cruised to the Northwest Conference title without dropping a single league game. The Lyncs rolled in their district games, which captured a 14-point victory over Freeman in the regional game to qualify for the Hardwood Classic.
The 1A State Basketball Tournament, held in Yakima, has become a second home for De Haan. Since the tournament moved to Yakima in 2001, De Haan’s squads qualified for the Hardwood Classic eight times, a feat in and of itself.
The opening round game was against the Granger Spartans, a local favorite from just 27 miles away. The Lyncs dismantled the Spartans with a 63-40 victory, to setup a rematch with top-ranked and unbeaten Cashmere in the State Semifinals.
The Lyncs knew a showdown with Cashmere was inevitable during their State Title run. After falling to Cashmere at a holiday tournament earlier in the season, then-senior Courtney Hollander remembers Coach De Haan sitting the team down and watching the game film. De Haan wanted to show the girls what it took to be a State Champion.
“Coach told us if we wanted to win State then we would need to play better,” Hollander, now a freshman on the Seattle Pacific Women’s Basketball Team, shared. “That was the real turning point for us in the season.”
The rematch was a defensive battle. Lynden Christian held the powerful Bulldog offense to only 26 points, the lowest point total for Cashmere all season, and avenged the early season loss.
In the State Championship game, Lynden Christian squared off with familiar foe, King’s, who they previously played twice, once in the regular season and once in the district playoffs, both wins.
Proving the team got only stronger as the season progressed, the Lyncs defeated King’s by two points in the regular-season, 10 in the playoffs and 24 in the State Title game.
“Playing all four years in the system, I noticed in my senior year that it was going to be different,” Hollander remembered. “It felt like a family and our coaches were a huge part of creating that feeling and it wasn’t solely about basketball, but life.”
Hollander was one of many former student-athletes who rave about De Haan’s mentorship. Although Hollander admits she was nervous going into the program as a freshman knowing De Haan’s success and expectations, she remembered the life lessons that have been instrumental in her growth as a basketball player and a person.
After the season, De Haan was honored with more accolades. He revealed it was the final season to the rest of his peers and to his team. It may appear that this will be the final chapter for the former Lynden Christian coaching great. However, with Hall of Fames to be named to and court dedications that await, the complete Curt De Haan story is one that has many chapters yet to be written.