Gilbertson left lasting impression on SHS hoops legend

The following is a Gilby rememberance from Snohomish basketball legend Melina Flores, who was an SHS senior during the 1995-96 season, when Keith Gilbertson Sr. made the transition to coaching Panther girls basketball after more than 30 years of coaching the boys team. Flores is currently an assistant coach at Princeton after a stellar collegiate career as a point guard at Stanford and a pair of two-year stints as a professional player with the WNBA’s Miami Sol and Lithuania’s Lietuvos Telekomas. She previously coached women’s basketball at the University of the Pacific, Lehigh and Yale before joining Princeton’s staff in 2007.  

I will always consider myself one of the lucky ones: one of the people to have interacted with Coach Gilbertson. I remember when we heard that Gilby would be joining the girls basketball staff as an assistant. All of the girls were a little hesistant — we’d heard stories about his intensity, and we weren’t sure how that would translate to our game and teams.

But when he actually set foot on the court as a coach, he was the happiest, most positive personality out there. He was always helpful; it seemed like he really enjoyed being out there with us. And the feeling was certainly mutual.

While my experience with Coach Gilbertson at SHS was a good one, it was what happened years after my time as a Panther that had the biggest impact. After my college years and a very short stint in the professional game, I decided to become a coach. My first stop was at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. I hadn’t been there more than a couple of months when I received a small, type-written envelope in my mailbox. Inside it was a “Note from the Coach.” Gilby had tracked me down and took the time to wish me well and also update me on all things related to SHS athletics. I read that note over and over again. It meant so much to me — I had joined the coaching ranks and he was welcoming me in.

As I bounced around from program to program trying to find the right fit as a coach, a letter from Coach Gilbertson always found its way to my work mailbox. He kept tracking me down and bringing a smile to my face. I still have the first note he sent me — and I always will.

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