Prep Boys Basketball

Dahl's career brings him home as West Hancock basketball coach

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 22, 2020 12:01 am

WARSAW, Ill. -- Jeff Dahl has a picture that captured the dismay his sons, David and Jonny, experienced when he left Warsaw in 2001 after seven seasons as the boys basketball coach.

"They were so sad because they had all this Wildcat stuff and they were so sad they weren't going to get to play for the Wildcats," Dahl said. "So sad."

For Jonny, such disappointment can finally be rectified.

Jeff Dahl was introduced Wednesday night as the new West Hancock boys basketball coach. He succeeds Hall of Fame coach Reno Pinkston, who resigned in March after winning more than 600 games in a Hall of Fame career that included the past 12 seasons at West Hancock.

Dahl will be joined by his son, Jonny, as the former Keokuk (Iowa) and John Wood Community College standout will be an assistant coach after spending last year on the staff at Central.

"Jonny will get the chance to be a part of that Warsaw legacy, at least a little bit," Dahl said.

That legacy is about success and family.

Dahl coached Warsaw, which is part of the athletic co-op with Hamilton and Nauvoo-Colusa, from 1993-2001, compiling a 148-48 record. His teams won four regional championships and the Class A state championship in 1997 when the Bill Heisler-led Wildcats went 29-3.

He's returned occasionally since then, including last winter when he served as an assistant coach for Iowa Wesleyan University, and it's always felt like home.

"I was seeing a lot of kids playing who had the same last name of the kids I coached," Dahl said. "That was cool. It's a really unique place. It just feels like home to me when I walk in. Even though it's a different gym, it still feels like home."

That's a credit to the people, more than anything else.

"I know a lot of the administrators there, so I know it's a special place because of them," Dahl said. "The administrators shape your school and allow you to be successful. And they are just really good people."

Over the last two decades, Dahl has served as an assistant coach at Culver-Stockton College, Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa, and Iowa Wesleyan. He also was the head coach at Keokuk, where he spent seven seasons and compiled a 96-63 record.

Each place he's been has shaped his coaching philosophy and style.

"It's more relationship driven," Dahl said. "I'm more of a relationship type of guy. I really like that aspect of coaching. To get the kids to play as hard as they used to play, it has to be a little different.

"And I enjoy the grind of becoming good. I like it when a kid is better than they think they could be by the time they graduate."

That takes work, something he expects the Titans will be ready to do.

"Reno did a great job of demanding work ethic from the kids," Dahl said. "That's an expectation. And being a Titan is not a right. It's a privilege. Reno did a nice job of making them earn it. That's something they know they'll have to do."

He'll have his son to help instill that as well.

"Jonny has a fantastic basketball mind. He's a really gifted teacher," Dahl said. "To work with him will be fantastic and will be fun. Hopefully it will be fun for both of us."

For the Dahl family, it's bringing everything full circle.

"I love the game. I love kids. I love coaching with my family," said Jeff Dahl, whose son, David, is an assistant coach at Iowa Wesleyan. "West Hancock feels like a family. The Titans feel like a family."