Passing the torch: Geoff Arte replaces father Mike Arte as women’s basketball coach at Gonzaga Prep

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Mike Arte, who retired at the end of last season after 41 years of coaching – 34 with the women’s basketball program at Gonzaga Prep – was picking up some of his grandkids from day camp in school last month when he met the school principal. , Cindy Reopelle.

Arte wasn’t surprised when Reopelle told her she had seen her son Geoff at school earlier that day.

“She said, ‘Hey, I have to tell you, Geoff and (Geoff’s son) Blaine were here today running,’ and – she’s been here as long as I have – she said, ‘That’s me. remembered you and Geoff following you around school when he was little. ”

Such is the case when a son follows in his father’s footsteps.

On June 1, Gonzaga Prep announced that Geoff Arte, an accomplished coach in his own right, was replacing his father as the school’s women’s basketball coach.

“So that your son replaces you after 34 years? said Mike Arte. “I think it’s extremely satisfying.

“And people don’t have to worry because he gets all his best qualities from his mother.”

On a high note

Mike Arte announced his retirement from coaching and teaching at the end of the Bullpups’ season – in which the team went 18-5 overall and 17-3 in the Greater Spokane League – after 34 illustrious years at the helm.

He is not leaving school completely, as he has accepted a part-time assistant position in the athletic department, at least for the next school year.

Arte began his career at Kellogg in 1981, coaching junior basketball and JV Boys. In 1983, he was hired at G-Prep and coached the JV boys in freshman basketball and baseball.

In 1988, Arte was named head coach of college women’s basketball. In over three decades, he amassed a 481-293 record, including six GSL titles, and was named GSL Coach of the Year four times. He has taken teams to the state tournament six times and won 4A state titles in 2014 and 2015.

He was also athletic director for nine years and served as dean of students and assistant director of studies.

“I made the decision about a week after our last playoff game,” Arte said.

“I just felt like we had such a good year. And I felt like it was just the right time to come out because of how much fun I had this year. We really exceeded expectations the year last and it was way beyond what people thought we were going to be, and then just the joy that I got from that band. It was, it was just the right time to retire.

Arte pondered the decision throughout the season.

“I ended up with 41 years of coaching in total, 34 years of girls coaching,” he said. “I don’t keep records, I didn’t know what my win total was or anything. But I coached 774 games at Gonzaga Prep. That’s a lot. And that’s not counting the summer, it’s the real games of the season.

“But it felt right to me. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was the right time.

Arte is proud of its record, but even more proud of the legacy it leaves with the program.

“Everyone would say the obvious answer is to win a few state championships, right?” he said. “But I say no to that.

“The biggest accomplishment I’ve had is building a program that not only focuses on elite players, college-level players, but we really coach and focus on lower-level teams. and let’s make basketball a positive high school experience — not just for college kids, but for kids who just want to have fun.

Arte said high school sports may lose some perspective in this regard.

“I think high school sports are a bit under siege,” he said. “We’re putting too much emphasis on the higher levels, and we’re not emphasizing the lower levels and so we’re starting to lose participation. And I think it’s a parody of high school sports.

He said it spilled over to club sports.

“They are told at a young age that they have to specialize to be good, but I have to tell you, not all kids want to be elite athletes,” he said. “Some kids just want to do it for fun, and that’s what we’re losing.”

The classroom will be missed as much by Arte as the gym.

“People see me as the coach. I’m a teacher,” he said. “Most of my time is spent in class. You know, I spend six lessons a day teaching kids. where my fulfillment comes from.

“To be a teacher is also to be a coach, because a good coach is also a good teacher.”

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Geoff Arte returns to his alma mater of Central Valley, where he served as assistant and interim head coach in the men’s basketball program, as well as head coach for men’s cross country and women’s track and field.

He was recognized as GSL Coach of the Year for Athletics three times and led the team to eight GSL titles. As interim men’s basketball head coach, he led the team to the State 4A tournament in 2022.

“I think it’s exciting because it’s something new,” he said. “But I’ve been on a basketball team for 25 years, so I’m just moving around in a seat – trying to do all these things that as an assistant you don’t really realize the coach- chef does until you move.

“It’s hard to leave CV, obviously, because this community has been so special to me for the past 15 years. But I am joining another great community and it also makes sense for my family.

Part of the incentive to return to G-Prep was to train one sport. Geoff and his wife have just added their fourth child, born two months premature.

“It probably wouldn’t have taken that for me to realize all the things my wife was doing without me, but that was a big motivating factor in the decision to leave (CV) was to make sure I was more available at home. “

At home with the family, and “at home” with G-Prep.

“It’s obviously a community that’s been quite transformative in my life,” Arte said. “You know, that’s where I got married. This is where all my children were baptized. I spent the first 18 years of my life running around the halls.

“It’s quite funny when I go through it now, it feels much smaller than I remember. But that’s because I was so small, but yeah, I’m glad my kids can have the same experience.

Arte did not initially run to apply for the job.

“One day I was joking with some athletic coaches at a meet, and I thought, ‘I wonder who’s taking over from my dad’ and they said, ‘You should think about that. “A week later, I applied for the job.

“I only told him I was applying the day before the interview.”

“I was mowing the garden,” Mike Arte said. “My phone rang and he was like, ‘I think I better tell you something.’ I go, ‘Oh no, what’s wrong?’ He says, “I’m interviewing for your job.”

“I was a bit shocked. But I also had a huge surge of pride that he would be the one to follow in my footsteps. That was my first reaction, and he will do just fine.

Goeff Arte understands the big shoes he has to fill in a unique situation, but also appreciates the resource he has.

“I think it’s incredibly valuable,” he said. “Just the basketball knowledge of some 750 games.

“It’s good to have people you trust. So that really helps.

Arte holds the CV community in high regard and was not looking to leave.

“It was an opportunity that I knew would probably never come up again in my teaching career, so I felt I had to take it. It’s fulfilling that way.

“I am thrilled to be part of a community that has been so important in my life.”

“I expect him to be there for 25 years as a basketball coach,” Mike Arte said.

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