Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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La Center’s VanWeerdhuizen retires after 30 years of coaching

65-year-old coached five sports at the school since 1989

By , Columbian staff writer

There’s few coaches left in high school sports like La Center’s Herm VanWeerdhuizen — a coach who stays at one school for 30 years, and a head coach of five sports. 

“I didn’t ever get fired,” VanWeerdhuizen joked. “That’s why I was smart enough to move around.”

But recent health complications and ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19 is why VanWeerdhuizen, La Center’s girls basketball coach, has decided to retire. At age 65, he falls into the high-risk category for the disease. 

VanWeerdhuizen said Wednesday he didn’t plan to retire from coaching for another few years, but recent developments made him rethink his decision. This past winter marked VanWeerhuizen’s seventh consecutive season as head girls basketball coach, and his second stint coaching girls basketball at La Center. The young Wildcats won the 1A Trico League title in February. 

“I knew I had to make the decision,” he said. “You just don’t throw 30 years out the window and call it good, but I had to. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

VanWeerdhuizen and La Center have gone hand-in-hand since 1989 when he started the boys soccer program. In the early 1990s, he helped start the girls soccer program at La Center. In all, he’s been a head coach at the school in five sports — boys and girls soccer, baseball, and boys and girls basketball. He also assisted Forbes Lapp when La Center won back-to-back boys basketball state titles in 1996 and ‘97.

His busiest years came in the 1990s when he coached in every sports season — girls soccer in the fall, assisted in boys basketball in the winter, and boys soccer in the spring. A longtime La Center resident also is a La Center coaching lifer spanning 30 years at one school and coaching five sports. 

“I never, ever said I was a great coach,” VanWeerdhuizen said. “I just said I was a good coach who tried to get kids involved and tried to get the best out of them. I’ve had a lot of great players come through the system. 

“It’s been a great run.”