If you’re looking for quantity, Dick Katte is your man. Start with the fact that Katte is the winningest basketball coach in state prep history with a 732-182 slate (at this writing) logged entirely at the helm of a Denver Christian High School boys team. That figure is 200 more than the nearest competitor.
Katte, has been on the DC faculty since 1960. He established and began coaching the Crusader basketball team in 1964. He remains active as a math teacher, basketball coach and assistant principal, but he also has been athletic director, baseball, football and track coach.
Additionally, Katte has refereed football in the Western Athletic Conference for 25 years and was supervisor of officials for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference during the past year. It’s primarily in basketball, however, that he’s stamped his personal mark. Denver Christian has won 20 Metro League basketball crowns and five state championships on his watch.
Katte has been a tower of strength in both the Colorado Coaches Association and the Colorado High School Activities Association and was a driving force in establishing the CHSAA Sportsmanship Committee.
The Sheboygan, WI native was enshrined in the National High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2000, he became the first-ever active coach inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame and was named Colorado All-Century High School Coach. Then, in 2004, Katte was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame, which includes such notables as Larry Bird, Chris Evert, Jackie Robinson, John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson.
“I’m thankful for those (awards),” Katte said. “But the one that I think I cherish the most was when they gave me the first ‘Dave Sanders Award'”. It memorializes the coach who perished during the deadly shooting rampage at Columbine on April 20, 1999. “Dave personified courage beyond all comprehension…That’s what makes that (citation) so memorable.” The other honor Katte puts way up there is having the Dick Katte Athletic Center on the Denver Christian campus named for him.
This “Army of One” didn’t escape personal trials and tribulations. Katte played touch-and-go with death in 1985 following a brain aneurism. In 1993, he had a cancerous small intestine removed and underwent a year of chemotherapy. At his side were wife Lorraine and children Keith, Jamie, Shelly and Laurie.
Winning…Family…Religion. All define Katte, but he has amassed his winning record as a leader with moral authority. His principles of sportsmanship and fair play are a way of life for his players. He and the Crusaders win with humility and lose with dignity. With a philosophy based on team concept, he admits his favorite squad was his 1978 state championship team. “They weren’t the most talented, but they had the most team qualities,” the coach said.
For a man whose main focus has not been solely on winning, Katte is a winner’s winner. For a man who minds the scoreboard but does not dote on it, teaching character values such as integrity, ethics and teamwork are paramount.
“I once read, ‘Bloom where you are planted,'” Katte said. “I never was a climber (but) I still have a lot of energy. I try to be productive where I am” – a lesson for all the sports world to appreciate.
Staying active makes you stay young.