Congratulations, Coach Tom Dineen


Girls’ basketball coach Tom Dineen is retiring from teaching at my alma mater, Buffalo Grove High School, later this year.

His record in 29 years (from the article):

  • 1 Class AA state championship
  • 8 trips to the state finals
  • 10 sectional crowns
  • 25 regional titles
  • 17 Mid-Suburban League division titles
  • 9 MSL titles
  • 674 career wins

Doing the math: 674 wins in 29 years is an average of 23 wins per year.

I knew Coach Dineen a little bit in high school, back in the mid-70s, though he was not yet the girls coach. Couldn’t be a nicer guy. And quite obviously, and more important, an excellent coach and leader of young people. I’ve watched his teams play quite a few times over the last few years, and follow them in the paper when I can.

They are always fundamentally sound, and play smart, team ball; I’d find it hard not to root for them, even if we weren’t from the same high school. 😉

Unfortunately, the school district (District 214) has a rule against coaches without teaching positions. And so, in an example of rules trumping common sense, they suddenly have little use for him, even though he still wants to coach.

It seems to me that a school district should have a compelling interest in keeping uber-qualified leaders of young people in-district. Leaders like Tom Dineen.

Good coaches teach life lessons along with the sport itself, like what it means to play on a team, and the value of short-term sacrifice in pursuit of long-term goals.

For a young adult, these life lessons can be — and usually are — much more important to their long-term success in life than whatever educational tidbits they picked up in high school.

Dollars to doughnuts this decision is driven by either (a) union rules or (b) lawyers afraid of lawsuits. Or both.

2/22/08 UPDATE: Since this is probably Coach Dineen’s final state tournament run, at least with BG, I’ll track the results here.

Thursday 2/21: Buffalo Grove defeated Wheeling 45-43 to win the Mundelein Sectional title. The article describes an epic battle, with 2400 people in the gym, and a big lead for BG before Wheeling stormed back to tie it at 36 with just a couple minutes to go. But Buffalo Grove made their foul shots in the last 30 seconds – 4 for 4 – and held on.

Buffalo Grove and Coach Dineen move on to face St. Charles North in the Elgin super-sectional, on Monday, for the right to go downstate next weekend.

Monday 2/25: Leading 43-37 with 2:20 to go, BG went into a four corner offense and converted 7 free throws to seal the victory. Final: Buffalo Grove 50, St. Charles N. 39. On to the state semifinals on Friday, at Illinois State University in Normal. Opponent: Whitney Young, who beat Maine South 49-32.

Monday 3/3: BG took third in state over the weekend, losing Friday night to Whitney Young 38-32, and then coming back on Saturday night to beat Marist 66-50 for third.

  1. Jake said:

    The “no teach, no coach” rule isn’t designed from fear of unions or lawyers, but to unscrupulous adults who are the polar opposite of Dineen away from coaching. This is seen all over the boys side, where an AAU coach will follow a group of boys, unduly influence them, and care more about winning and gaining fame than the “good things” that come from sports. Again, Dineen exhibits those good things, and it’s a shame he’s got to go, but the rule really does exist in the best interest of kids. Surprise! An education rule that actually works… for the most part.

  2. Thanks Jake. That’s good to hear, and I agree that the influence of AAU-type coaches can be a conflict of interest for the kids and the schools; I can salute that goal.

    However, this tends to prove my point, because if common sense were the only factor here, somebody should have stepped up by now and realized that even useful rules are sometimes drafted too specifically, and therefore act to accomplish the reverse of what they are drafted to prevent. I.e., the point of the rule is (ostensibly) to protect kids and provide them with good coaching. Yet it is defined in such a way that it pushes out older, experienced coaches who don’t want to teach any more. Either that is a very poorly defined rule, or there were multiple agendas at work when it was created. Such as creating jobs for younger teachers, perhaps?

    From my reading of school districts, especially in Illinois, fear of lawsuits drives nearly every major decision they make, especially if it involves overlooking some technicality like this. In any case, whatever the real explanation is for sticking to this rule in this particular case, it doesn’t reflect well on the school district, if you ask me.

  3. Jon Schumacher said:

    Tom Dineen is a Legend. The rules should not apply to anyone of his magnitude.

  4. transon said:

    Excellent point Jon Schumacher. Dineens legacy must live on.

  5. Brownie said:

    dineen is a god