Titans leader also mentored UA star Elliott as freshman coach at Cholla
University of Arizona and San Antonio Spurs basketball fans might want to take a moment to tip their cap to David Gin, who has decided to hang up his coach’s whistle after 36 years.
Long before spending the past 19 years as head varsity coach at Palo Verde High School, the 58-year-old Gin was a middle school, freshman and junior varsity coach for various Tucson Unified School District schools.
Included in his pre-Palo Verde stops was a stint as the freshman coach at Cholla High School, where he mentored a young Sean Elliott.
“I taught him a left-handed layup,” Gin said. “I figure he probably owes me a few thousand dollars at least for that.”
While Gin, a 1969 graduate of Tucson High, had been mulling over a possible retirement all season, he made his decision official two weeks ago to Palo Verde Athletic Director Peggy Baker.
“I’ve been doing it for 36 years now and it takes so much energy,” Gin said. “I think I need to spend a little more time with my family for awhile.”
Gin finishes his Palo Verde career with a 275-270 record after taking over in 1990 for longtime coach Lou Hopkins. He took the team to its only state championship game in 2000, a Class 4A title game loss to coach Dick McConnell’s Sahuaro squad.
Palo Verde was 15-12 this winter with the school’s 12th playoff appearance in the past 13 years. Palo Verde lost in the first round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs to Phoenix Cortez.
Gin, the father of two grown children, said a big factor in his decision to step down this year was the birth this past year of his first grandson, Gavin.
“I ran into (former Rincon/University volleyball coach) Juanita Kingston recently and she said, ‘Do it – you’ll love it,’ ” Gin said of retirement.
Kingston stepped down last year from Rincon’s boys and girls volleyball teams to spend more time with her grandchildren.
“She said I won’t regret it,” Gin said. “I’m looking forward to getting to do a little more of that.”
Gin starting coaching in 1973 at Pistor Middle School. He has seen the game grow into a year-round endeavor that makes it difficult to spend much time with family.
Palo Verde’s posting for the head coaching job closed Friday. Gin said he hopes junior varsity assistant Chris Klassen, a former player, will be given the opportunity to be his successor.
“I think after a few years of rebuilding the program – the cupboard was real empty when I took over – we were real competitive every year,” Gin said. “But I think what I’m most proud of was the two Boyd Baker sportsmanship awards we got. We tried to instill in the kids a sense that its not all about winning.”