Back in 1983-84, young Washington High School assistant basketball coach Gary Wusterbarth had a career-path decision to make among three options.
It is safe to say he made the right choice by becoming the boys coach at Steilacoom High School.
The longtime Sentinels’ coach retired Monday after 34 seasons due to health reasons. He is one of 19 coaches in state history to win 500 or more career games.
His 567 victories, all with Steilacoom, rank No. 9 all-time (567-288 record). He led the school to the Class 1A crown in his first year — 1984-85.
“It’s been very satisfying,” Wusterbarth said Tuesday. ‘The wins and losses are not as important as the experiences of it. I’ve had lot of great memories.”
A two-sport standout at Pacific Lutheran University, Wusterbarth took over for John Medak at Steilacoom, and went on to win one state title in 17 tournament trips, as well as 11 Nisqually League and West Central District championships.
He has also been a high school history teacher for 40 years.
But Wusterbarth, 64, has been battling Parkinson’s disease over the past year or so, and is scheduled to have surgery to help with it at the end of August.
He informed the school administration Monday he was retiring, then broke the news to his coaching staff over dinner later that night.
“Any time you do something for a long time, it is hard to give it up,” Wusterbarth said. “I have had a lot of good kids and great community support.”
Wusterbarth will continue to serve as a Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association (WIBCA) board member, as well as being part of the national council for Coaches Versus Cancer.