One of my first “big time” assignments when I started at The Messenger was to cover the Iowa Central men’s basketball team.
For a recently-graduated high schooler, I felt like I had hit the jackpot.
Here I was, given the opportunity to cover college basketball on a Saturday afternoon, taking in all the sights, sounds and rim-rattling dunks.
Needless to say, all of that excitement soon went out the proverbial window when I saw an imposing man standing on the sidelines. He was barking orders at his players as he prepared to lead them into battle.
That man was Dennis Pilcher.
Over the course of the next two hours or so, I became nervous. How would I talk to his larger-than-life figure? Could I even get a question out that made sense regarding the game? What if I couldn’t?
As I would soon find out, Coach was hardly the same person pacing back and forth on the sidelines as he was seconds after the game. A friendly greeting welcomed me as he offered up a chair and the chance to relax for a minute before divulging into what happened in the game.
I can’t remember at all if Iowa Central won that day, but Coach had definitely won me over as a fan.
There have been too many times to count when someone from the crowd has come up to me after a tough Triton loss and said, “Man, have fun with that interview.” But that has never once been the case. Every exchange has started the same way with Coach saying, “Take a seat, let’s talk.”
And no matter if it was a thrilling upset over a ranked team, a heartbreaking loss or even a blowout defeat, Coach remained the same person post-game: honest, upfront and always adding a bit of his Southern humor into the interview.
Enjoy retirement, Coach.