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Dyck's Move No Mistake by the Lake : Basketball Coach Makes Fast Break From L.A. for Slower Pace in Idaho

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Jack Dyck, CSUN hall of fame. One in an occasional series.

June 17, 1995|JOHN LYNCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Among the cedar and white pine framing the sunsets and rolling thunderheads that alternately wash over Lake Pend Oreille in the Idaho panhandle, Jack Dyck is living out an ever-popular Southern California fantasy: Escape.

Escape from the drive-by shootings, the two-hour commutes, the smog, the crowds, the gut-tightening pace . . . details all too familiar to many urban-weary Southern Californians.

Dyck too felt the squeeze of the city, saying it was especially constricting to one who grew up in the relative tranquillity of Granada Hills in the 1960s when the Valley, with its wide, clean boulevards and neighborhood schools, was a suburban sanctuary.

Dyck's new sanctuary is Sand Point, a town of 6,000 about 60 miles south of the Canadian border and little more than a one-hour drive from Spokane, Wash. Surrounded in Alpine splendor, the Dycks live just 200 yards from their dock on the lake, which is 40 miles long, eight miles wide and sandwiched between the Coeur d'Alene and Kaniksu national forests. The Schweitzer Mountain ski resort is 10 miles from town.

That's a short trip but Dyck's commute to work is even shorter. In 2 1/2 minutes, Dyck travels from his front door to Sand Point High, a regional school of 1,300. For the past three years, the former Granada Hills High and Cal State Northridge basketball player has been the school's basketball coach and athletic director.

The Sand Point job is a good one, but Dyck, a 41-year-old member of the CSUN Hall of Fame, enjoyed a similar assignment at Beverly Hills High. He coached the sons of privilege for 13 years in one of America's most-famous cities and settled into a comfortable life in the Santa Clarita Valley with wife Robin, his high school sweetheart.

But life was turning sour for Dyck, who had ample time during his lengthy commute to lament the steady decline around him. When a student at Beverly Hills was killed in a drive-by shooting, Dyck was ready to uproot his family.

He took his wife, his family, his home equity, a substantial pay cut and moved north. Since arriving at the high school in 1992, he has repaired a troubled athletic department, laid the foundation for a winning basketball program and found plenty of time to fish the lake with his 12-year-old son Matthew. On a typical afternoon, Dyck sits on the back porch with his 9-year-old daughter Amy and watches the weather roll over the water.

"The other day I came home from work and my son said, 'Dad, let's go fishing,' and in a few minutes we were out on the water,' " Dyck said. "This is just a great place to raise kids."

Family friendly Sand Point also has embraced the school's new athletic director. Principal A.C. Woolnough, another transplanted Southern Californian who taught at Palmdale High, credits Dyck with boosting Sand Point's sports image.

"Our athletic department was in shambles," Woolnough said, noting the school had three athletic directors in the four years before Dyck was hired. "The soccer teams in Washington refused to play us because of the behavior of our teams, coaches and parents. They were out of hand. Jack brought back a sense of order, dignity and pride."

Local businesses must have noticed. Sand Point is the kind of town where you can go shopping and forget your wallet and store owners allow you to pay later.

"When it happened to me I thought they were kidding," Dyck said. "Life is dramatically different in a small town. In some ways, it reminds me a little of what the Valley was like when I was a kid."

*

Dyck, a 6-foot-4 swingman with an accurate left-handed shot, played at Granada Hills in the Valley's glory days of the late 1960s and early '70s when neighborhood rivalries spiced the high school sports scene and large, enthusiastic crowds routinely showed up for games.

The sold-out gym at Granada Hill High was the site of Dyck's first athletic success. The crowds were so intense, he remembers, he could not hear the shouts of teammates just a few feet away on the court.

Dyck nearly joined the chorus of cheers while he sat on the bench at Canoga Park High during his junior year in one of the first games televised by a local station as part of a high school game of the week series. With Ross Porter and Tommy Hawkins, both now with the Dodgers, calling the action, Granada Hills defeated Canoga Park, 108-98.

"It was a great high school game," Dyck said. "I sat there with my jaw on the floor. Guys just could not miss. I was an awed spectator. I was just nervous the coach would put me in."

Coach Barry Bass gave Dyck ample playing time the following season. Dyck was the team's leading scorer, averaging 19 points, and helped the Highlanders at midseason reach No. 1 in the City.

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