By Peter Tormey
LAS VEGAS – Mark Dolbeer never attended Gonzaga University but was happily helping the GU Alumni Association at its social Monday for the second consecutive year. A Portland State University alumnus, Dolbeer loves Gonzaga and has a few Zag connections. For one, he taught and coached Gonzaga Coach Mark Few at Creswell High School in Creswell, Ore. Also, his daughter, Kelli Dolbeer Schwartzenberger, is a 2004 Gonzaga alumna.
Dolbeer, who retired two years ago after a long teaching career, came to Creswell when Few was a sophomore. He was Few’s junior varsity basketball coach that year, and helped coach Few when he became the Bulldogs’ starting varsity point guard as a junior and senior. Dolbeer remembers Few as a determined and highly motivated player with basketball savvy beyond his years.
“He was a really good defensive player, really smart, a good ball-handler,” Dolbeer said. “He really had a knack for knowing how to control the game.”
Dolbeer said Few demonstrated strong leadership qualities early on and he is not surprised he has become one of America’s most successful college basketball coaches. (See March 9 profile in the Sporting News.)
“I knew he would be real successful with whatever he did,” Dolbeer said. “He knew how to get things done.”
In addition, Mark Few always appreciated the importance of hard work, said Dolbeer, who still keeps in touch with Few.
In his first year at Creswell, Dolbeer did not initially hold weekend practices. He soon discovered Few did not appreciate a practice-free weekend.
“He came to me and said, ‘Hey, we need to be practicing on the weekend,’ ” Dolbeer recalls. “He and the other players really wanted to be good – there was some basketball tradition at Creswell. He wanted to practice at least one day on the weekend.”
And so they did.
Mark Few’s hard work paid off at Creswell – just as it has at Gonzaga. As a senior in 1981, Few and his fellow Bulldogs advanced to the state’s AAA semifinals before losing at the buzzer, Dolbeer said.
“He was a good kid,” Dolbeer said of Few who is a member of the Creswell High School Athletic Hall of Fame. “I have some great, great memories of those years.”
Dolbeer will be in the Orleans Arena tonight rooting on Mark Few and the top-seeded Zags who aim to create more winning memories for Zag Nation when they battle No. 2 seed Brigham Young University for the WCC Tournament crown at 6 p.m.