Longtime EvCC basketball coach Chet Hovde brings heart to the game
40 seasons... 465 wins... but who’s counting?
Michael Rhodes photos
EvCC Women’s Basketball Coach Chet Hovde in 2015.
EVERETT — In any industry, 40 years is a remarkable accomplishment. As a coach at the college level, however, 40 years is nearly unheard of. With 465 career wins in the college ranks (and counting) and heading toward his 40th year of coaching, there’s no doubt that Everett Community College Women’s Basketball Head Coach Chet Hovde is a big fish in college athletics.
Hovde, an Everett native, graduated from Everett High School in 1965. A 1st Team All-State selection for men’s basketball, Hovde attended the University of Washington on a full-ride athletic scholarship, finishing his collegiate playing career at the University of Puget Sound while receiving his bachelor’s degree in education.
When his storied coaching career began in 1978, $2.68 was the national minimum wage, “Grease” was the major hit at the box office and the Seattle SuperSonics would go on to win the NBA National Championship title that season. A lot has changed since then.
Through the years, Hovde’s seen generations play.
“We have a player on the women’s basketball team whose mother played for Coach Hovde at EvCC,” wrote EvCC Athletic Director Garet Studer. “There are not too many coaches around that can say that they had the opportunity to coach two generations of athletes.”
Conceding with a smirk, Hovde quipped, “they call me ‘grandpa’ sometimes,” seeming to wholly
understand it more as a term of endearment than a reference to his leather-like
age-spotted hands, whitening hair, or pure contempt for
rap music. “I’ll never like that stuff. And you can quote me on that,” he joked.
“I always knew basketball was what I wanted to do, but Everett was always a special place,” said Hovde. “It was always home.”
Yet when his dream head coaching job at Everett Community College became open, it wasn’t an easy decision for Chet Hovde. After enjoying three double-digit winning seasons and a fourth place finish in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) as head coach for women’s basketball at Edmonds Community College, Hovde would have to make what he referred to as one of the most difficult decisions he ever made. He could either continue the incredible winning trajectory he had created at Edmonds, or move back home to Everett, and help establish consistency within what had been a volatile program.
Hovde went home.
“It used to be all about winning and losing,” he recalled while gazing at the photographic record that was once just a humble wall in his modest office,
covered floor to ceiling with team photos reaching back through the decades, “but the real joy
you get out of it is seeing what these young women become after their time here,” he said softly with the calm and tenderness of a proud grandparent.
In addition to his work with generations of athletes, Hovde has also borne wit-ness to the evolution of college sports, specifically recruiting. “It used to be that you’d just go and visit the high schools down the street, now I have players from all over — Alaska, even.”
A particularly challenging wrinkle that makes
Hovde’s job different from four-year programs is that his window is only half as long. “You get these young women for two years … and that’s it,” emphasizing his point by slicing his hands through
the air and allowing a long pause. “That’s not a whole lot of time.”
For Hovde, his role is about helping young women continue toward their goals. “You make sure they have the grades to move forward and succeed. Make sure they are happy and they know you are there and support them. You worry about the basketball stuff after that.”
And that “stuff” is looking pretty good this year for EvCC.
After being ranked No. 3 in the preseason NWAC coaches poll and finishing atop
their preseason tournament (the Everett Classic) for the first time in
school history, Everett currently is dominating its conference (5-1) and holds a two-game lead on first place in the NWAC North (16-4). Led on the court by sophomore forwards Uju Chibuogwu, who set a new single-game school scoring record with 45 points in a Dec. 17 win over Clark
College, and Everett Classic MVP Alexis
Biggerstaff, Everett may be headed for unknown territory as they steamroll the competition.
Over 40 years, Hovde has learned the importance of being deliberate with his words and has a unique perspective on the impact lofty expectations can have.
When asked about the possibilities ahead for this team, Coach Hovde isn’t blinded by optimism, but positivity is definitely at the
forefront of many people’s minds.
“This group of players has the potential to be the best I’ve coached” — a resonating statement coming from an institution like Hovde. “But we’re taking it one game at a time.”
After five decades of service to college hardwoods and his community, some would say that EvCC has more than just a big fish— in Hovde, Everett Community College women’s basketball may have caught its white whale.
“Chet has a unique quality in that he has this experience (referring to Hovde’s
40 years in the NWAC), but also will listen to his players, and take and receive input from his assistant coaches,” said Studer, EvCC’s Athletic Director. “You do not do this for that long if you are not passionate about the sport, and the young student athletes that you have an impact on.”
“That is what makes him special.”
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