Seven years ago, Brady Bomber followed a legend as Lynden Christian girls basketball coach.
Now Bomber has followed his friend Curt DeHaan in being nominated for the national girls basketball coach of the year award by the National Federation of State High Schools Association, an honor DeHaan won in 2014.
“It’s very humbling,” said Bomber. “I attribute it to everyone around me — incredible coaches who make coaching fun, seven years of players who have been high-character kids and good basketball players, the legacy left by Curt, and the continuing standard of excellence at LC. It doesn’t happen with one person. It’s a program.”
Bomber was nominated for the national honor by being named the state coach of the year for all classifications by the Washington State Girls Basketball Coaches Association for the 2020-21 season. The announcement for the national coach of the year selection is usually done in mid-January.
The Lynden Christian girls (3-2 overall and 3-0 in the Northwest Conference) square off against Class 1A rival Nooksack Valley (4-1, 3-0) on Thursday, Dec. 16, at LC at 7:15 p.m. Check out the results of all the county teams’ games in the Whatcom Hoops weekly recaps each Sunday.
Bomber took over a program that had already set the standard for girls basketball in Washington state starting with coach Sharon Strengholt, who took the Lyncs to three straight state finals and won consecutive Class 1A state championships in 1979 and 1980.
Strengholt passed the baton to DeHaan the next season and in 34 years, he amassed 772 victories, the most in Washington state girls basketball history.
Under DeHaan, the Lyncs had 31 state appearances; 28 state trophies; and 13 championship game appearances. They won eight state titles, including three in a row in 1990-92, back-to-back crowns in 1998 and 1999, undefeated state championships in 1996 and 2008, and a state title in 2014, DeHaan’s final season.
While Bomber’s tenure is nowhere near as long as DeHaan’s, Bomber’s recent success is just as impressive.
His teams have placed fourth at state twice, took second once, and won state championships in 2016, 2018, and 2020. Had there been playoffs in the COVID-shortened 2021 season, LC would have been the heavy favorite to win another state title. He also was named the Class 1A state coach of the year in 2016.
“What he’s done in his first seven years has been amazing,” said DeHaan. “He’s taken the program to a special level. He is very deserving (of the national award).”
Noting how Bomber recently changed careers from the business world to teaching at the high school, DeHaan said that showed him a lot about Bomber’s character.
“He’s very relational, a man of strong principles and integrity,” said DeHaan. “(Switching to teaching) showed he’s got a passion for using his gifts and talents to have a positive influence on young people.”
While the national award technically is for one season, the coaches’ body of work is certainly noted.
DeHaan earned the national coach of the year honor in the final season of his illustrious career. Lynden coach Rob Adams also earned the state coach of the year award in his final season (2020), when the Lions won the second of Adams’s two state titles.
With the Lyncs once again among the Northwest Conference favorites this season, Bomber tried to put the unusual 2021 spring season — when Lynden Christian finished 13-0 — in perspective.
“We wanted to focus on how much fun we had last year,” he said. “We’ll remember the ’20-21 school year for the rest of our lives. It was nothing like anything we’d ever seen. We’re just glad we got to play a season.”
As for the national honors, Bomber wanted the focus to be on the program not the coach.
“It’s cool to be recognized, but it (the award) is a testament to a lot people,” he said.