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From Pella to Osceola

A 10-minute sitdown interview with new Clarke boys basketball coach Jim Dingeman

What’s your background before coming to Clarke?

“I grew up in Pella. I went to a number of different colleges (Central, Indian Hills, NIACC, William Penn). I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was actually a student coach at Pella High School first. I wasn’t worth a darn in basketball after two years, but I had a lot of friends on the team and I knew I wanted to be involved in a good team.

Coach Mark Core started a program for students who wanted to be involved in student coaching and so you got more responsibility and that’s how I got involved there. After going several different places, I came back to Pella to work at the golf course and I didn’t have much to do in the winter and I joined the team to help as a volunteer. I spent the first year videotaping games and coming to practices not saying a whole lot and watching. I ended up spending eight years as his assistant varsity coach there. I was three years as the freshman coach and that gave me the chance to have my own team. I also spent six years as the Pella Christian golf coach. It was unique to be the golf coach at Pella Christian and a basketball coach at Pella High.

I had a lot of fun with that and a lot of good memories from both of those and I actually took over as the debate team coach for two years at Pella. I wore a bunch of hats there.  came here after coach Mark Core left to go to (Des Moines) East, I was looking at what my future was going to be like and stumbled upon this opening and decided I’ll apply and see how the interview process goes and Tracy (Johnson) took a chance on me and so I decided to come down here.”

What made the Clarke job appealing?

“I always keep a close eye out on the South Central Conference. Being from Pella, Knoxville was a big rival. We played Chariton quite a bit. Being the golf coach at Pella Christian, I’ve gotten to watch Albia quite a bit. We played Centerville. I’m pretty familiar with the conference.

When I looked at Clarke at first, I didn’t know a whole lot about it. As I kept looking at certain things...it became much more interesting the opportunity that we have here. I looked up the last time (Clarke) High School went to the state tournament was 1920-something. I like a challenge. I met the guys. I really like the guys, I like what I see here. We have a long road ahead of us, but I’m really looking forward to this season.”

What did you pick up at Pella that you want to bring here? 

“Coach Core there, he was a guy who I learned a lot from there. Also he and coach Mike Ballinger. Those two guys I’ve known pretty much my whole life, those guys have taught me tons of stuff. I’d really like to take a lot of that and bring it here. I’d like to play a fast-paced style like we did at Pella the last five-six years. It’s going to take the guys’ determination to make some changes and their willingness to do that. I’d like to press and I’d like to run and I’d like to play an exciting brand of basketball. It’s going to take a lot of work. We’ll see how it goes in practice.”

Where do you see the challenges posed in this conference? 

“I’ve known a lot about Centerville. They’ve had a high-scoring team. I assume that they’re going to be that way this year. Chariton the past five or six years has been very solid. I expect that to be the same this year too. I’m really looking forward to our games against Knoxville being an old rival from Pella … I think Eddyville could be a very good team and could surprise some teams. I think everybody in the conference is going to be good. It’s great to have a conference that’s going to be so deep that we’re going to... get tested, We’ll be battle tested when we get to a potential playoff run.”

What should people, expect to see?

“We’ve adopted this idea of rebuild, redesign, reclaim. I didn’t come up with that myself, but I thought it made a lot of sense losing the seniors that we did, having the type of team that we’ll have, and trying to bring this team back to where it can be. With the talent we have, I thin we should have a solid team. I’m going to hold these guys to a pet high standard of expectations. If we don’t win a lot of games,I hope we can keep our character and represent our community really well.”

What else should people know about your team?

“This has been a dream of mine for many years. This is the right place for me to take my first chance at being a head coach. I hope the people in this community give us a good chance and come out and really support us. I’ve heard a lot of good things about people filling the gym up and being really loud on game nights. I’m really looking forward to getting going.”

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