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The legacy of one man who put the students first

On Friday, Aug. 23, officials at Forest Grove High School dedicated The Basinski Center, a facility that houses the school’s new gym, weight room, locker rooms, concessions areas and commons foyer. The complex was constructed with funds from a bond measure passed in 2010, and it was named after Jeff Basinski, a former longtime Forest Grove educator, coach and athletic director. Basinski retired in 2005 and passed away in 2011.

Doug Thompson, the current athletic director, took some time during the dedication ceremony to pay tribute to the man known as “Bas” and the legacy he left in the community. His comments have been edited for clarity.

When we built the athletics center at Forest Grove High School, there was no doubt who it should be named after. In the late 1980s and early 1990s — when our school board and district administration cut athletics completely — it was Jeff Basinski — with support from his wife, Connie — who stepped up as the acting athletic director during this time.

He knew, as we know, that athletics and activities are a vital part of who you become as an adult. The relationships you build with coaches, band, choir and activities directors — and your teammates — are unmatched in a high school.

Jeff knew how important athletics were to kids. Not just the football team that is playing on Friday night, but members of the dance line who dance at halftime; the cheerleaders on the sidelines; the student managers; the trainers; the band members who get the fans warmed up; the students who come dressed in maroon and gold; the kids in Renaissance leadership selling field goal tickets ... the list goes on. Athletics is not just the athletes, it’s the epitome of community.

No one knew that better than Jeff Basinski. He coached state champions in wrestling; he took two different football teams to the state playoffs as a head coach and multiple teams during the Durham era as an assistant coach.

He was a mentor to thousands of kids. He was mentor to a bunch of coaches that I am proud to be part of. He was a leader as an athletic director around the state.

We have a scheduling process in the state to get the best matchup for all kids and all schools that is still used today that was developed by Jeff Basinski.

I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.

My first year as AD, the student body was upset with a decision I made and they came to a basketball game with shirts on that had the initials WWBD. I knew it had to be inappropriate, so I started my investigation. I came to find out it stood for: “What Would Bas Do?”

I try to ask myself that question every day.

Doug Thompson is athletic director at Forest Grove High School.




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