2013 Denver Christian’s own Coach Katte named Colorado’s coach with the most wins
There are fitting and happy departures, and then there was the magnificent and poetic conclusion to the coaching career of Dick Katte.
The vivacious 75-year-old finished off his 48th and final season as head coach at Denver Christian with a state 2A championship and 26-0 record, pushing his career mark to a gaudy 876-233. He retired with the most wins in Colorado history, eight state crowns and more dignity and honor than most men could ever wish for.
Think Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or a high school coaching version of John Wooden.
But to those who have followed his career closely, Katte is a true original, a prep treasure, and a coaching and mentoring jewel. He was a father figure to at least one generation and a grandfather figure the last couple of decades.
To all he was, and is, sheer class.
“Yes, he was a great coach,” said MaxPreps senior writer Gerry Valerio, who has been a prep writer in Colorado for more than two decades. “But I’ve never met a better individual in or out of the coaching ranks.”
For it all – undefeated championship season, legendary career, exemplary role model – Katte was a slam dunk choice as the 2012-12 MaxPreps Boys Coach of the Year.
The awards and titles have always been secondary to Katte.
“I’ve been blessed with a lot of great kids and players,” he told the Denver Post. “It’s taken a lot of time to get to 800 wins. But contributing to young people’s lives is much more important to me than the wins and championships along the way.”
He never coached a Division I college recruit. It wasn’t important for him to be famous or a household name either. He simply wanted to coach and influence young people.
“I think I received the kind of fulfillment I was seeking by just being here,” he said. “I just wanted to bloom where I was planted. I wasn’t a climber. I had no desire to have my name some place, … even though my name is on the gym wall.”
After winning his 600th game, indeed the Denver Christian school gym was named after him. That was more than a decade ago.
“That was probably the greatest honor I ever had and it was very humbling,” he said. “I was flabbergasted.”
It wasn’t so surprising the Crusaders won it all after graduating just three players from the 2010-11 squad that finished 22-4.
Austin Lefebre, a 6-foot-5 senior, led the charge by averaging 19.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He, 6-4 junior Alex Terpstra (18 points) and 6-4 senior Connor Kroshus (11 points) led a team that averaged 67 points per game and gave up just 40.
The Crusaders were especially stingy on defense, allowing 28, 33 and 39 points before a 54-50 win over Limon in the state finals. In that game, Denver Christian raced to an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and held on. Terpstra, Kroshus and Lefebre combined for 47 of the 54.
“That was a great championship game,” Katte told reporters after the game. “That Limon team wouldn’t go away. The great thing was, when they took a lead (45-44 midway through the fourth quarter), we responded right away.”
Katte knows about responding.
He survived a brain aneurism in 1984 and intestinal cancer in 1993. None of it slowed him down. He had only two losing seasons out of 48 – one the season after his aneurism and the second in 2008-09.
His teams responded after that to win a combined 69 while losing 14 his last three seasons. This was his second undefeated season, the other in 1977-78 at 25-0.
“I just keep saying to people that because I’ve recovered from two major surgeries, God has been faithful and I’ve been blessed,” he told the Denver Post. “I really believe that as long as I can help young people, that gives me fulfillment.”
Story by Max Preps Read Here