Dean Vander Plas interacts with his players before the state semifinal game last month.
Dean Vander Plas interacts with his players before the state semifinal game last month.

   After my first year covering the Ripon High School boys’ basketball team, I received a call from Dean Vander Plas as I headed home to Hortonville.

   The head coach wanted to know if I could attend a season banquet that night as he wanted to thank me for all that I did for the team the past couple months.

   I didn’t know what to think.

   In my short time of being in the journalism field, I was never asked to come to such an event.

   I decided to turn around and take Dean up on his offer.

   The night was special. Each player was honored, seniors spoke on their time at Ripon and a highlight video was shown.

   And when Dean thanked me in front of the parents and players for what I had done, goosebumps tingled through my body.

   That’s just the type of guy and class act Dean is — not only to me, but to all those who helped support his players and team.

   So when he told me he was going to step down from his position effective today (Wednesday) to spend more time with his family and watch son Ben play college basketball, it hit me hard.

   I knew it was coming for a couple weeks now, but it didn’t make it any easier for me.

Read the full column, which includes more examples of the type of coach and man Dean was, in the April 20, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.