Hongisto returns to boys basketball post

GLADSTONE – Dale Hongisto has experienced coaching basketball at a variety of levels. Each one of his teams have enjoyed success, but as he said Tuesday, nothing compares to the boys varsity game.

Monday evening, Hongisto was approved as the head coach of the Gladstone Braves varsity boys basketball team. This will be his second stint with the team after coaching them from 2005-2010, going 66-45 in that span and never posting a losing record. In his final season before moving on, in 2009-10, the Braves made an appearance in a regional title game, similar to the team Hongisto inherits now, which is coming off a district title, but will lose multiple players to graduation.

Hongisto has coached seventh grade girls, freshman and jayvee boys basketball and has spent the last two seasons as an assistant to Karl Dollhopf with the varsity girls at Gladstone.

Hongisto said while he learned much from Dollhopf, he felt the head coaching itch.

“I’ve been out of the head coaching loop for the past few years and I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to return,” Hongisto said Tuesday afternoon. “I want to have a greater impact on kids and I missed being a head coach. One thing I missed is the athleticism of the boys game, and obviously girls tend to be a little more emotional. You can be a little tougher with the boys.”

Hongisto said he will coach an up-tempo game with an emphasis on defense, something that shouldn’t take a lot of getting used to for the Braves.

“I’d like to play up-tempo, provided you have the right personnel to do it. They’re used to that already, but I will also place more emphasis on the defensive side of the basketball than I have in the past,” he said.

Moving back to boys basketball means Hongisto will pass up a chance to coach his daughter Lexi, who will be a junior next season, on the girls varsity team. However, Hongisto said he discussed that with his family.

“That was a decision where I sat down with my wife Leah, and Lexi and we talked about it,” he said. “There will be nights where we (girls and boys) play on the same night and I’ll miss a few games. I did get their blessing to go ahead with it.”

Hongisto praised the staff he will be working with and said he was grateful for the opportunity.

“Jim Gibbs will be my assistant coach and he’s an excellent basketball guy. He’s retired so he has the time to put in,” he said. “As far as the rest of the staff goes, I’m pretty lucky. I’ll inherit Brian Holm at 7th grade, John Smith at 8th grade, Clayton Caster as the freshman coach and Dane Quigley is our jayvee coach. I think we have a solid staff.

“I want to thank athletic director Matt Houle and principal Brady Downey for hiring me as well, from a nice pool of candidates.”

Hongisto said the cupboard isn’t bare at Gladstone and he is excited to get back in the game.

“There’s some talented kids coming back next year. The players I’ve had in the past have all respected me, and I’ve developed a lot of good relationships over the years,” he said. “That’s one of the most rewarding things about being a coach – the relationships you develop. It’s probably one of the most important things about being a coach.”