By Tyler Howard
Former Interim Director for the Athletic Department and former head coach for men’s basketball at Whatcom Community College, David Dunham, has accepted the position as the new assistant coach for men’s basketball at Western Washington University.
On April 11, Dr. Luca Lewis, Vice President for Student Services at Whatcom, sent an email to Whatcom faculty and staff regarding the changes to the Athletic Department. In the email, it said Dunham’s last day was April 9 and he will continue serving on the Athletics Search Committee during the selection process for the new Interim Associate Director.
“Whatcom Community College has suffered a tremendous loss,” said Lewis, “but this is a tremendous opportunity for David and a big win for Western.”
The 45-year-old Dunham had been the Interim Associate Director since September 2015 when Chris Scrimsher, former Athletic Director, resigned. Scrimsher had been with Whatcom for 19 years before leaving his position.
“I’ve been with Whatcom for nearly 14 years and it has been an amazing experience,” said Dunham, “I just think now it is time for a new challenge.”
For three years Dunham was head coach at Whatcom. He had an overall record of 48-37, with two Northwest Athletic Conference playoff appearances. In his first year as head coach he was awarded the NWAC North Region Coach of the Year award. Last season he led the Orcas to the NWAC championship game and placed second, losing to Spokane 91-84.
“The coaching staff this year has been the best we’ve ever had,” said Dunham. “Going from the top at second place and going almost all the way to the bottom, but then coming back up this past year; the coaching has just been amazing.”
Dunham was also the top assistant for Whatcom men’s basketball for 10 seasons, with two seasons as associate head coach under Chris Scrimsher from 2011 to 2013. Dunham is known for helping the Orca’s set a North Region record for 10 consecutive postseason appearances in 10 seasons.
In May 2013, Dunham became the volunteer assistant coach for men’s basketball at Western under head coach, Tony Dominguez. He was there a short period of time until October 2013 when he accepted the head coach position Whatcom.
Western will be looking to build off of their last year finishing with a 16-15 record for the 2015-2016 season. Western ended their season on a 91-90 loss to Alaska in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference semifinals.
Dunham said that his time as head coach has helped him to be a better assistant coach, being able to anticipate what the head coach is going through to help prepare for any potential challenges.
“Challenges are always unexpected,” said Dunham. “As an assistant coach it will be to keeps players eligible, in shape, and successful both on the court and in the classroom. But injuries and other challenges with the students will always be unexpected. My job will be to make the days go by smoother.”
Dunham said he will be able utilize the knowledge he gained during his time as Interim Associate Director. He said he now has a better understanding for what the department goes through on a regular basis.
“If you take a tornado, a monsoon, and a torrential down-poor with softball-sized hail combined into one, that would be my experience,” said Dunham describing his time as Interim Associate Director. “But I now have a better understanding for what the department goes through and got a boost of knowledge from behind the scenes.”
Dunham attended the Athletics Team Celebration on April 18 at the Pavilion on Whatcom campus where student athletes with above a 3.5 GPA were commemorated for their achievements. “We are honored to have [Dunham] here today to recognize our student athletes,” said Dr. Luca Lewis when he acknowledged Dunham in his address at the event.
Dunham presented awards to members of the basketball team including Leif Anderson, Daulton Lootens, Casey Leek, Deon Thomas, Logan Schilder, and Tanner Clark. “I appreciate them putting this all together,” said Dunham. “It’s awesome for the student athletes to experience this and for the college to recognize their hard work.”
The Whatcom athletes appreciate what Dunham had helped them accomplish this last year, said Leif Anderson, 19-year-old guard for Whatcom men’s basketball. Anderson said that what Dunham left this year will help carry on to next season.
“I learned a lot from him,” said Anderson, “he always pushed us to be our best, both on and off the court. I’m grateful for all he did and wish him the best of luck at Western.”
Dunham said that he would like to thank Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, Dr. Luca Lewis, Angie Short, Brian Keeley, Nate Langstraat, Colleen Hanson and all the athletes for his time at Whatcom. “I will miss the people,” said Dunham, “and walking through the gym and bumping into athletes and other people I know on campus. Whatcom is a very small campus compared to Western and I’m going to miss seeing those people on a regular basis.”
Angie Short, head coach for women’s volleyball at Whatcom will provide leadership throughout the new transition and the selection process for a new Interim Associate Director for Athletics. Short said they are starting the interview stage of the selection process at the moment. “We have a very strong pool of potential candidates,” said Short, “and once we have our pick it will bring more stability and help get some more championships.”
“I’m very excited for [Dunham],” said Short. “A little disappointed to see him go, coming off the heels of a successful season. But this will be a good stepping stone for him.”
Mary Schroeder, head coach for women’s soccer at Whatcom, will continue as Interim Coordinator for the Pavilion/Student Recreation Center while the selection process is underway.
Schroeder accepted her position as Interim Coordinator in October 2013.
“We’re sad to see him go,” said Schroeder, “but extremely happy for him. Who wouldn’t want to take their dream job?”
Schroeder said the search committee and she are excited for the potential candidates and they should have the new Interim Associate Director filled by June, just in time for fall sports.
Dr. Luca Lewis said the names for the new Interim Associate Director and new men’s basketball coach should be posted within the next couple weeks. “It is very competitive for this position,” said Lewis, “We want to pick the best person for the job.”