Age is no factor; AZ high school coaches enjoy long careers

Age is just a state of mind, as the saying goes.  And Art Dye is the latest to validate that claim.

The 73-year-old basketball coach was hired earlier this summer to take over the boys’ varsity hoops program at Benjamin Franklin High School.  And who’s to say he won’t have a long run at the charter school in Queen Creek?

Just consider this:

Cherry Roberds set the bar for longevity in the coaching ranks.  The hall of fame coach at Miami (AZ) High School was 83 years old when she passed away last month.

She was still blowing the whistle when Father Time caught up to her, coaching girls volleyball and boys and girls tennis.  The 2019-20 season marked her 55th year directing the Miami programs (which also included badminton).

And she hadn’t lost a step over the years.  The National Federation of High Schools named her the national girls’ Tennis Coach of the Year for the 2018-19 season.  Not a state honor, mind you, but a national recognition.

Over the course of the five decades she dedicated to the sport, she was enshrined in three halls of fame and won state titles in all three sports she coached.

Art Dye won’t have a chance to run up that kind of record.  He’s starting a little late.

But that doesn’t mean that Dye hasn’t already left a major mark on high school basketball.  He is generally considered as the driving force behind the start of the Arizona club programs that give players a chance to improve their game in the off-season.

Dye was a long-time director and coach for the AAU Stars program, through which a number of NBA players have passed, including University of Arizona greats Mike Bibby and Richard Jefferson.

However, this is the first school program he will get a chance to lead.  He is taking over the reins from Jeff Thomas, who led the Chargers to a 13-16 record last season and 13-17 the year before.

Dye will try to build on the progress Thomas made in his two years, but will be working with the challenges that come from taking over a program with a long run of losing seasons.

But, after decades coaching the game, it’s safe to assume he’s been there before.