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Pine Ridge Basketball Coach Built Legacy of Respect

March 10, 2014, 10:10 PM by Kevin Woster

Pine Ridge Basketball Coach Built Legacy of Respect

Dusty LeBeaux's list of duties as boy's basketball coach and athletic director at Pine Ridge High School is long and lovingly tended.

He believes in building foundations, whether it's by cleaning the hardwood in the Thorpes' gym or teaching basketball fundamentals and mutual respect to his players.

He repeats himself on that "respect" point, because he believes it's that important.

 "That's a big, big thing in coaching," the 62-year-old LeBeaux said. "If these young men and women respect you and you give that respect back to them, they'll do a lot of good things."

Proof of that is in LeBeaux's sparkling record. It includes 562 wins coaching both boys and girls teams, coaching all eight of his children on teams that made it to state tournaments and winning a spot in the tourney 19 times with three different reservation schools.

LeBeaux's boy's team at Red Cloud won the Class A tournament in 1995 and his girl's team at Pine Ridge won the title in 2009. And he has reason to be proud of an overall record of 562 wins and 177 losses.

But LeBeaux takes even greater pride in his winning ways with players on a personal level.

Senior point guard Jesse Brown says LeBeaux says is a soft-spoken taskmaster who inspires kids to find the best of themselves. That's especially important to younger kids or those who might struggle with problems in their lives, Brown says.

"He just knows the things to say in order to lift your confidence and help you play better, to play at the level that he knows you can play at," Brown said. "That's what makes the game more fun, to have a coach that knows what to say at the right time in the right games."

It's also having a coach who has a fatherly influence with his players.

"I don't think nobody's as close and as cool with their coach as our team is," Brown said. "Because we can talk to him like we're brothers, tell him anything. But he treats us just like we're his kids. And he takes good care of us."

LeBeaux says his role with players off the court is at least as important as his coaching on it.

"I'm in the halls with them, and talking with them, you know, and helping them in different ways," LeBeaux said. "Bringing them in here I see when they are having a hard time, tough times, and I'll sit and talk with them and help them through, you know, whatever's bothering them."

But "family" has been more than symbolic for LeBeaux. He often coached one of his own children or other blood relatives and this year coaches his grandson, Jeff, a 6-5 senior center with an imposing presence around the basket.

"It's been a good four years with him," Jeff said. "I'm glad I got to say, like all my aunties and uncles, that I got to play for him."

That didn't mean special treatment from grandpa, however.

"Yeah, he's tough, especially on me, because he can be because I'm his grandson," Jeff said. "He has permission to, from my dad,"

Jeff's dad, Beau, was a point guard for his dad and still shows up at practice and helps with advice during games.

"He'll come in at halftime and he'll see something that I might not be seeing," Dusty LeBeaux said. "And he'll let me know and I'll adjust to it."

LeBeaux says coaching family wasn't a problem.

"It was just them being another child, another athlete in there with the rest of them," LeBeaux said. "They got treated the same. There wasn't nothing done special for them."

Some might argue that a program based on mutual respect means something special for everyone. LeBeaux likes that thought, as he reflects on a career that is nearing an end.

He hasn't made it official, but LeBeaux expects this season to be his last.

"These young men knew, I told them, this is my last year," LeBeaux said. "And they all said that they would play it for me."

What else would they do, for a coach who taught them so much about winning, and respect?


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