(May 7, 2008)
Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073
From Coaching to Teaching...Centenary Alumnus Credits College for Road to Success
SHREVEPORT, La.—While playing basketball in the early 1970s at Centenary College, David Deets had dreams of coaching after he graduated. He never imagined he would one day be in charge of a school district. But that is exactly what happened for the 1974 graduate when on April 23 he was named as the new Orion School superintendent in Orion, Ill.
"At the time I received my business administration degree and then later my master's degree in educational administration, I thought it would just help my coaching career," explained Deets. "I never thought it would lead me on this journey to become a superintendent one day."
Deets began his academic career at Centenary after being recruited by Larry Little and Riley Wallace, two coaches he knew from his home state of Illinois. "I was playing in junior high school when Wallace was teaching at Litchfield High School," said Deets. "When they came to Centenary as head coach and assistant, they recruited me, so I followed them here."
According to Deets, it was an exciting time to be involved with the college and basketball. At the time, Centenary was an independent school with no conference affiliation, requiring the team to travel constantly just to get a schedule. And with only 900 total students, Centenary was the smallest Division I school in the United States.
Deets makes a layup during a game at the Gold Dome in 1973. The Gents finished the year with a 19-8 record, its best in major college competition.
—(photo courtesy of the Yoncopin Yearbook)
"It was the Robert Parish era," Deets recalled laughing. "I was co-captain with Parish my senior year and it was just a remarkable year." During his final year at Centenary in 1974, the Gents rolled to a 22-3 record, and at one point in the season had a 12-0 winning streak. It was the longest winning streak in the nation among major college basketball teams. The team also put together a 13-game win streak in the Gold Dome to add to the list of accomplishments.
Deets was a dual-sport athlete at Centenary, playing both basketball and baseball. His fondest memory of his time spent at the College, he says, is the association he had with both teams. "I was really blessed to have the friends and teammates I had," said Deets. "There was so much camaraderie, we had a lot of fun together and we had very successful seasons."
After graduating, Deets returned to Centenary as a graduate assistant then followed Coaches Little and Wallace to the University of Hawaii, where Deets was an assistant coach for five years, while also attending classes for his master's in educational administration. "I thought it was the right course of action for me if I wanted to stay in coaching, so the degree made sense." However, Deets left coaching and began his own business in financial advising and insurance, a successful venture that lasted 15 years.
Because of his love for the game of basketball, Deets continued to coach, although part-time, and in 1995, returned to full-time coaching, landing both a head coach and teaching position at Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville, Ill. After three years, he became principal of nearby Whiteside Middle School and served in that position from 1998 until 2002.
But his climb up the career ladder quickly continued, surprising even Deets. "When I got back into education I had no idea that I would go from coaching to administrating," he said with a slight laugh. Deets became the superintendent for the Roxana, Ill., Community Unit School District 1 in 2002, and has held that position for the past six years.
Moving to the last rung of the ladder, Deets will assume his new position as Orion School District superintendent July 1. "This is where I will probably finish up my career in education," he said.
For all his successes, Deets credits his years at Centenary as his preparation for his life ventures.
"Centenary was a great fit for me in that it was a small, intimate surrounding, but with a big-time basketball atmosphere...we actually had the best of both worlds," said Deets. "My experiences both as an athlete and student prepared me for a lot of different avenues in life. I had a successful coaching career at the University of Hawaii; I was a successful business owner for 15 years; and now will finish my professional career in educational administration. I think it all stems from the academic foundations I received at Centenary College."
About Centenary College of Louisiana
Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrates 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.