Two Whatcom County boys basketball programs announced the hiring of familiar head coaches on Thursday, March 31, and while one was a big surprise the other wasn’t.
Sehome will be coached next season by Brad Jackson, the long-time Western Washington University head coach who guided the Vikings to the 2012 NCAA Division II national championship.
Lynden Christian announced that Tim Zylstra, who had been the interim head coach the past two seasons, now will be the official head coach. Zylstra led the Lyncs to the Class 1A state championship in early March.
Jackson coached 27 seasons at Western from 1985 to 2012 and holds the record for coaching victories (518). Under his leadership, the Vikings qualified for the post-season 19 times and won 65 percent of their games.
He left WWU after the national championship season and was an assistant coach and later special assistant for the University of Washington from 2012 to 2017.
A native of Vancouver, Wash., Jackson was a three-year letterman in baseball, basketball and football for Hudson’s Bay High School, earning all-American and all-state honors in hoops. He played baseball and starred in basketball at Washington State University, led the Pacific-8 Conference in assists as a senior, and still is among the top 10 in several assists categories.
After graduating in 1975, he assisted at Seattle Pacific University and later was head coach for four years at Olympia High School and one year at Eastside Catholic.
He and wife Debbie have two grown children — daughter Lynsey and son Kyle, both of whom played basketball for Sehome. Debbie also was a teacher and coach at the high school.
“I’m privileged to have the opportunity to serve Sehome and our community in this position,” said Brad. “Our family has had a strong connection to the school for many years. We are looking forward to being a part of the great basketball landscape here in Whatcom County and hope we can be good representatives of the excellent tradition of Sehome High School.”
Jackson replaces Skyler Gillispie, who resigned after coaching the Mariners the past four years and taking them to the Class 2A state tournament this past season.
Zylstra is a Lynden native, who was an all-state guard for the Lyncs in 1984 and went on to play at Centralia Community College for two years and Seattle University for two years.
After being an assistant coach at LC for nine years, he was named the interim coach two years ago. His 2021 squad won an unofficial Northwest Conference title in the COVID-shortened season, and the 2021-22 team won the NWC, district, and state championships.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have played here and now to get to coach here at LC,” said Zylstra when first named head coach.
“I don’t take that for granted. Most importantly, through the game of basketball, we as coaches can help these kids continue to build their relationship with Christ and help them give the best of their God-given abilities in everything they do in life.”
He and wife Michelle have five children and are owners of Terrebonne Limited, a Lynden-area gardening tool supplier.
Jim Carberry is a former Bellingham Herald sports editor and author of several books on Whatcom County prep basketball. Follow him on Twitter @whatcomhoops and visit the Whatcom Hoops Facebook page.