As a basketball player, Loren Anderson was a 5-foot-9 spark plug who hustled his way into becoming the all-time leading scorer at Seattle Pacific University. As a baseball player, he was a high-average dynamo who drew interest from Major League Baseball organizations.
This week, people in Skagit County and beyond are remembering Anderson for another role: successful boys' basketball coach at Anacortes High School, where in the late 1960s and the 1970s he guided the Seahawks to state tournament appearances and taught lessons that lingered long after the games had ended.
Anderson, 84, died Aug. 2 in Anacortes.
Born in North Dakota, Anderson moved to the Pacific Northwest early in his childhood and starred in several sports at Auburn High School.
He went on to a college career at Seattle Pacific University, which at that time was known as Seattle Pacific College, and became the school's all-time basketball career scoring leader with 1,955 points. His No. 5 jersey was retired by the Falcons.
Although he had the opportunity to try his hand at pro baseball, Anderson instead pursued teaching and coaching.
He coached at Rainier High School and Yelm, but much of his success came in Anacortes, where over 12 years his Seahawks teams won nine conference titles — including a run of eight in a row — and six district titles, and made four state appearances, finishing as high as fourth.
Former players remember a detail-oriented coach who stressed preparation and a mastery of fundamentals.
"Whenever a situation came up, like we were down two with 20 seconds to go, everyone on the team knew what we were going to do," former Seahawk player Charles Nelson said. "We'd practice and practice and practice those things. (Coach Anderson) instilled a discipline of preparation. An understanding of that carried into my professional career and life."
Gregg Kingma also played for Anderson and went on to his own stellar career at SPU. He was a potent scorer for the Falcons, although he couldn't catch his former coach's career total — a fact, Kingma noted in good humor, that Anderson mentioned a few times in conversation.
"From a business standpoint, from a family standpoint ... so much goes back to my basketball days of preparation, confidence, positive attitude," Kingma said. "It wasn't just instilled by my family but by Loren. He impacted so many lives."
Kingma said several games his senior year at Anacortes were won on last-second shots. It wasn't luck, or the fact the Seahawks overwhelmed with talent. It was preparation.
"In both cases they were set plays we'd practiced for three years. You think about how that transfers to life ... preparing for situations in life, (getting ready) mentally so you're prepared," he said.
Ken Welk played point guard for Anacortes in the late 1970s. He later served as an assistant to Anderson and became his son-in-law.
Welk, who also coached the Anacortes girls’ team for a number of years, said he employed several of Anderson's coaching philosophies into his own coaching career and would often talk to him after games, seeking tips or advice.
But his former coach and father-in-law, Welk noted, had a personality that was all his own.
"If you turned the ball over, he'd say 'If you turn it over, throw it into the stands — don't let other team get it!' Obviously he didn't want you to throw ball away. But he had a sense of humor," Welk said.
Anderson retired in 1991 after a stint coaching in Ferndale.
His former players say his lessons will live on.
"His philosophy was that basketball was for the development of the person, it wasn't just about becoming a complete basketball player," Welk said.