Dave Irwin has spent the last 21 years in the head coaching role for the Le Mars boys basketball team. Now, the program’s all-time winningest coach is stepping away from the role at the end of the season.
From an early age, Irwin’s coaching path was set for him through his father Jim who coached high school basketball in Indiana for nearly 40 years. Irwin says he always knew he wanted to coach.
Irwin says some of his earliest memories came at his dad’s practices.
The coaching profession lends itself to many people having an impact on your style and gameplans as a coach. Irwin says he did not have to look far for his largest influence.
Irwin’s dad was not the only one in the household who impacted him at an early age. His mother Mary was not a coach or much of a sports fan in general, but she taught Irwin a very valuable lesson about sports early on.
Irwin’s first coaching opportunity came during college at Wayne State College teaching some shooting drills. Once he got that opportunity, he says he was hooked to the profession.
A lot of coaches make numerous stops on their journeys to a desired point. Irwin’s coaching journey was no exception.
Irwin got his foot in the door under former head coach Barry Borchers who let him help out at practice and go to games. He says that allowed him to get familiar with the program, the school, and the community.
Irwin was named the head coach of the Bulldogs ahead of the 2002-2003 season and has never looked back. He says, once he got the job, he did not want another job other than coaching the Bulldogs.
That first season saw the Bulldogs go 13-11 and make a long postseason run that ultimately ended one game short of the state tournament. Irwin says that team will always be special to him.
The Bulldog basketball program has seen numerous players go through it and be impacted by it. Irwin says he has had a front row seat to some of the best players this town has seen.
In his 21 years at Le Mars, Irwin’s teams have won over 300 games, produced eight different all-state athletes, and recorded a state runner-up finish in 2015. Irwin gets a lot of the recognition for those achievements, but he is quick to recognize his assistant coaches who have helped him along the way.
Irwin also expressed his appreciation for the community who came out to support the Bulldog program through highs and lows.
Most importantly, family is crucial in supporting the life of a coach. Dave’s wife Susan also coached the Bulldog volleyball team for a number of years which made them a perfect sounding board for each other. Irwin says that was a huge blessing he got to enjoy that other coaches do not.
As the games wind down and Irwin’s time on the bench comes to an end, he hopes he can be remembered as leading a program that was upright and did things the way they were supposed to be done.
Irwin will end his Bulldog career with over 300 career wins in less than 500 career games coached.