Successful coaching career lands Ganskie in Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame |

Successful coaching career lands Ganskie in Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame

Duwaine Ganskie, left, will be inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame Wednesday for his work as a basketball coach during the past 29 years.
Photo by Brian O’Brien |

By the numbers

Duwaine Ganskie, basketball coach

Seasons: 29

Wins: 620

Section titles: 8

NorCal titles: 3

Accolades: 2004 California Coach of the Year, 2016 Optimists Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, 2016 Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame inductee

For nearly three decades Duwaine Ganskie paced the sidelines of a basketball court stategizing, competing, teaching and leading.

His ability as a high school basketball coach led to 620 victories, eight Sac-Joaquin Section championships and three NorCal championships. He was also named the 2004 California Coach of the Year.

For his efforts Ganskie will be inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame Sunday.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Ganskie, who has retired from coaching but remains the athletic director at Bear River. “You never set out as a coach looking to do that. It’s just something that follows you when you are done.”

When Ganskie began his coaching career at Hesperia High School in southern California, he said his drive was about Xs and Os and his passion for the game of basketball.

But, when Ganskie took the job of coaching the Bear River girls basketball team in 1988, his motivations changed a bit and success followed.

“That’s when it kind of shuffled for me,” he recalled. “From being all about the Xs and Os to appreciating the experience and the relationships I built with the players.”

By combining his basketball IQ and ability to bring out the best in his players, Ganskie began a run of success very few have experienced.

Ganskie led the Lady Bruins to eight Sac-Joaquin Section titles, winning Division III titles from 1996-98 and they won Division IV crowns in 1990-91 and 1992-94. His teams were state runners-up in 1993, 1994 and 1996.

“My 19 years coaching girls basketball was so powerful,” Ganskie said. “Those 19 years were really special. Not only because what we did, but because I think we changed girls basketball in the foothills.”

Michelle Wallace, who graduated from Bear River in 1997 and played four years for Ganskie, spoke fondly of her former coach in an interview earlier this year.

“He was the best coach I ever had,” said Wallace, who won multiple section titles while playing for Ganskie. “Just a great mentor.”

Wallace added that Ganskie wasn’t just a coach on the court, but off it as well.

“He had a huge impact on me in high school and after,” she said. “He took a big role in helping decide my future and helping me decide what was best for me. He put in way more time and effort than just a coach.”

In 2004, Ganskie became the head of the NU girls basketball program and ran it until 2007, when he returned to Bear River to coach the boys team.

“As a coach he was fantastic,” Tanner Mathias told The Union in March when Ganskie announced his retirement from coaching. Mathias played for Ganskie’s 2009 Pioneer Valley League championship boys team.

“From a basketball standpoint he taught me a lot,” Mathias added. “I went from thinking I knew a lot to actually knowing a lot. He was also good at developing not only talent, but camaraderie and leadership.”

One coaching characteristic Ganskie said has served him well his entire career has been his ability to adapt.

“I never got stuck in one system or approach,” he said. “My best attribute was reading kids, personnel, and my own staff. I was able to put people in places they could succeed.

Ganskie added that none of his on court achievements would be possible without the support of his wife.

“No doubt about it. Any successful coach will tell you; to be successful and stay married means you have a very supportive wife,” Ganskie said.

Ganskie also acknowledged Dick Werntz, Jack R. McCrory and Jerry Bunch for getting him get into coaching and helping him along the way.

Ganskie is one of four coaches being inducted, along with Art Banks (softball at Roseville/Woodcreek), Dan Carmazzi (football at Jesuit/Christian Brothers), and the late Mike Takayama (girls basketball and softball at Del Oro).

Players to be inducted are Robbie Bosco (football, basketball and golf at Roseville), Jeff Float (swimming at Jesuit), Aaron Garcia (football and basketball at Grant), Lindsay Hyatt (track and field at Placer), Denali Knapp (swimming and water polo at Davis Sr.) and George Parker (track and field at Stockton).

Media members Marty James (Napa Valley Register) and the late Carl Underwood (Lodi News-Sentinel) will be inducted as well. Two officials, Jim Jorgensen and Joe Harper, are also being inducted. In the administrator and benefactor category, Debra Davis, Pete Saco and Rick Spears will be inducted.

The induction banquet and ceremony is scheduled for Sunday at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email

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