Every February or March, high school basketball teams from all across the state flock to Tacoma, Yakima or Spokane in pursuit of bringing back a state title for their school. In recent years, Tacoma schools have had a strong presence at the tournament in both the small school 1B and 2B classifications, as well as the bigger schools of 2A, 3A and 4A. The success of Tacoma schools is found in players and teams, but also in the talent, drive, and passion of the coaches who have led them.
As summer basketball waits around the corner, several Tacoma schools will find their boys basketball teams under new coaching as Mark Lovelady of Life Christian Academy, Dave Alwert from Wilson High School and Aubrey Shelton of Lincoln High School have all recently stepped down from their positions of head coach.
Lovelady has been the boys basketball head coach for the past 25 years at Life Christian Academy. He even took on the position of coaching both the boys and girls basketball teams this past season. Lovelady is leaving not only Life Christian but Tacoma as he heads south to become the new high school principal of Gilbert Christian in Arizona.
During his time at Life Christian Lovelady coached the boys team to 13 state appearances and one girls appearance where the Lady Eagles won the school’s first girls state game in school history. Lovelady ends his time in Tacoma with 400 career coaching wins. “I was blessed to be able to get win 300 with my son, Luke, and then win 400 with my daughter, Landyn…” Lovelady said. “Words cannot describe how special it was…” Lovelady said on having the experience to coach two of his kids.
At Gilbert, Lovelady will not be coaching but is excited to have time off with his family, especially during the holiday and summer breaks. He is also looking forward to being only a five-hour drive away from Point Loma University where he can watch Luke play basketball.
For Wilson’s Dave Alwert the decision to resign as head coach was centered on his desire to spend more time with his family, especially his children. “Between fundraising, summer ball, open gyms and player development, I made the decision that I am not giving my children enough of my own attention…it’s just time to focus on them,” Alwert said. For Alwert the coaching was not the real time consumer, but all the extra work he put into the program, such as working shifts at the concession stand of Rainier games to help raise extra money for the team.
Through his 10 seasons at Wilson, Alwert led the Rams to the state tournament four times. Some of Alwert’s favorite moments of coaching were of rivalry games against Lincoln and Foss High School. While Alwert said he will miss coaching, he is proud of the program and high standard he built and trusts Wilson in hiring the next coach and that the program will be placed in good hands.
While other coaches are stepping away from basketball, Lincoln High School’s Aubrey Shelton is stepping up, as he transitions to the job of men’s basketball head coach at the University of Puget Sound, his alma mater. Shelton described his new position as a “dream come true” and said so far UPS has been supportive.
Shelton played at Lincoln and UPS, and then returned back to Lincoln to coach the Abes for 11 years. As he prepares to head back to UPS, he feels his life has come full circle. When asked about some of his favorite moments from Lincoln, Shelton mentioned wins both at state and against city rivals, a team retreat to a cabin where the team could bond on a level deeper than basketball, and funny moments at study halls.
As Shelton spends the summer recruiting for the Logger’s roster he is looking forward to bringing more of the Tacoma community into the UPS community. He wants more Tacoma fans at games and Tacoma athletes to join UPS. He’s also looking forward to helping to impact more young men. At UPS he hopes to “help them have the best experience of their life and help set them up for their careers.”
What all three coaches will miss the most though is the relationships. For the past four years, Lovelady had three of his old players on his coaching staff and stays in contact with many alumni he now calls friends. “Building great high school memories has always been the highlight and focus of my coaching style,” Lovelady said. Alwert said he’ll miss his players most too and “watching the growth process of these young men.” Shelton’s greatest moments were also in the relationships he had with the kids. He loves seeing what his players accomplish after they leave Lincoln and takes great pride in being able to have a “small part of these kids’ success.”
All three coaches have tremendous respect for each other and their work towards raising the standard of Tacoma basketball. They impacted the lives of student-athletes, and they will be greatly missed.