For Dexter boys basketball coach Chad Allen, Gene Bess was more than a basketball coach.
Bess, who recently retired as the men’s basketball coach at Three Rivers College after 50 years and 1,300 wins, not only made Allen a better basketball player but a better person.
“The life lessons he taught me are innumerable,” Allen said. “Not only all the things I learned that helped me as a coach but the one thing that stood out more than anything was his faith in Christ.
“His record speaks for itself but not too many people know the other side of coach Bess. He’s a great man of God. After this life what’s done for Christ will only last. Coach was a firm believer in the great commission.”
Allen, who led Dexter’s girls basketball team to 10 district championships in 12 years prior to taking over the boys program last season, said Bess influenced his decision to become a coach.
“I changed my degree from art to coaching after taking one of his classes, ‘Coaching basketball Successfully,’ ” he said. “The one thing that I always look back to is the notebook that he made us take notes on before every practice. I didn’t know at the time how beneficial that would be to me when I became a coach.”
Allen credited Bess for his opportunity to play basketball at the University of Memphis (1995-97) and overseas for a year.
“His attention to detail (fundamentals) and the discipline that he maintained,” Allen said on what made Bess a great coach. “I was very average coming into Three Rivers but when I left I was more than ready to play at the next level.”
Allen said many players remember running at Bacon Park in the preseason, his two biggest memories occurred during his redshirt year (1992-93).
“During one of the practices while coach Bess was talking, I was not paying attention,” Allen said. “I guess I was admiring all the banners in the rafters when a ball struck me on the back of the head. Needless to say, I learned so much more during my time there because I never took my eyes off of him again.”
Allen recalled Bess’ pad drills.
“I’m sure coach Bess had the two strongest guys (Belvis Noland and Brian Price) with the football pads for a reason,” said a laughing Allen. “You had to make a shot while the two guys with the pads hit you with them. I never got a shot off. I was being hit while in the fetal position shortly after the drill began. That drill made a man out of me before long.”
Kyle Smith - Dexter Statesman