Last updated: Wed. Apr. 27, 2011 - 03:08 pm EDT
Dave Riley's influence can be felt around Fort Wayne these days, even 13 years after he retired as the Northrop girls basketball coach.
Rarely is there a current Fort Wayne coach who doesn't mention Riley's name when it comes time to accept some state hardware, which seems to be happening quite a bit in the city.
That kind of clout is what has earned Riley the 2011 Nancy Rehm Award, an honor given to those who have excelled in women's athletics.
"Just the other day at church, a young man walked up to him and said, 'Coach, I had you at Franklin Junior High School, and I played for you.' We run into that a lot," said Riley's wife, Sharon.
"People remember him because he is such a good guy. He always had a way to make people feel good about themselves. He's just that kind of person."
Current Wayne girls basketball coach Mark Redding, among others, paid homage to Riley after his Elmhurst girls basketball team won the Class 3A state title in 2009.
But Riley, 76, won't be there in person Saturday at Saint Francis to accept the Rehm Award, because he will be in Indianapolis being honored by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame with the rest of the 1986 state champion Northrop team.
The '86 Bruins had a then-record 57-game winning streak that was recently broken.
Riley, a 1953 North Side graduate, was inducted in 2008 as an individual.
"It was quite a thing for David because…he said when we were dating at North Side that he was going to become a teacher and a coach and after we graduated and we started on our journey, he set goals for himself," said Sharon, who was Dave's high school sweetheart.
"That was one of his goals was to be in the basketball Hall of Fame, so he has been very fortunate that he met all of his goals. Not many people can say that at 76 that they set all these goals and achieved them – with a lot of help and a lot of luck."
Riley won the '86 state title, as well as 10 SAC titles, seven sectionals, seven regionals and two semistates. He coached for 41 years, accumulating 377 wins and was 346-87 from 1979 to 1998 as the Northrop coach.
His coaching career began when he was 22 at Adams Elementary and spanned 41 years. He served as the Indiana All-Star coach in 1991.
"Dave was one of the best basketball coaches ever in Fort Wayne," said Saint Francis women's basketball coach Gary Andrews, who won three straight Class 2A state titles at Bishop Luers from 1999 to 2001.
"You always knew that you were in for a dogfight when you played Dave's teams, and as good a coach as Dave was, he is an even better person."
Nancy Rehm Border Wars
What: Indiana vs. Ohio basketball all-stars
Where: Saint Francis
Times: 5 p.m. girls; 7 p.m. boys
Admission: $5 (K-8 students free)
Radio: Games on 1250 AM