LYNDEN — Lynden Christian boys basketball coach Roger DeBoer is being let go from his position and will not return to coach the Lyncs next season.
The Lyncs are coming off a 22-6 season and second place finish at state just a month ago.
DeBoer, a Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame inductee, has led Lynden Christian for the last 11 seasons.
During his time as head coach, Lynden Christian captured two state titles with one coming in 2012 and the other in 2018. In those 11 seasons, DeBoer and the Lyncs compiled a 228-67 record.
DeBoer said he received a message Wednesday from the Lynden Christian administration asking to meet Thursday afternoon. Shortly after the meeting started, he was informed he would no longer be head coach of the team.
The school came out with a press release Friday.
“Lynden Christian is announcing that Roger DeBoer’s service as head boys basketball coach will conclude and he will not be returning to coach the Lyncs next year,” the release read. “Coach DeBoer consistently led his teams to success on the court, with 9 state tournament appearances, state titles in 2012 & 2018, and a 2nd place finish this past season. We are grateful for the time, energy, and passion he has given to his players, teams, and Lynden Christian during his 11 years at LC.”
Lynden Christian athletic director Brenda Terpstra said the school is unable to comment on personnel issues.
Prior to the start of the season, DeBoer was informed by the school there was an action plan in place for him that focused on three areas. Those areas were sideline demeanor, an intimidating personality and a divisive spirit, DeBoer said.
“When you’re a very outgoing person, sometimes sideline behavior can be interpreted in a negative way,” he said. “One of the things we wanted to do to be the best for the kids was to take all the excitement and emotion I carry as a coach and do it in a positive way. Making sure the intimidation factor that carries along with my personality, we wanted to monitor and keep an eye on that.”
DeBoer said the divisive spirit was described by the school as him challenging leadership and following protocol.
In that meeting with Lynden Christian, DeBoer said he asked for an explanation of the dismissal. He said he was told the school had seen progress with his sideline demeanor, but had not seen enough improvement with the intimidating and divisive spirit.
DeBoer asked for concrete examples of his behavior the school found to be intimidating or divisive, but was told he wouldn’t be given any. He said he also reached out to Lynden Christian superintendent Paul Bootsma, who was not present at the meeting, asking for those examples.
“[Administration] responded the decision had been made and there were not going to be any concrete examples given in the best interest of time,” DeBoer said. “For my own professional development, I wanted to know what concrete examples I could work on. [Bootsma] said he would go with what the athletic director and principal stated, although there were items there.”
In addition to coaching and leadership differences, there was a conflict regarding T-shirts printed by the apparel company DeBoer co-owns, Cloud 9 Sports, for the Lyncs football team's state championship run last fall.
Lynden Christian was contracted with a different vendor for all state T-shirts, which Cloud 9 Sports respected, DeBoer said. Shirts can only be ordered in a specific window of dates, and once that closed with the other vendor, parents contacted DeBoer and Cloud 9 Sports to make more shirts.
“I said I can’t have a conflict with what’s going on with the current contract, but parents said the store was closed and they wanted to give their senior sons some shirts and ordered them,” DeBoer said. “The school took that as not only a violation of that bid, but they also looked at that as a direct disrespect of the administration. I did my best to explain it was the company doing its job and fulfilling an order, but the school didn’t quite feel that way.”
He added there are many, better ways the entire situation could have been handled from his end.
DeBoer said he and his family respect the decision made by the school, but he feels there was a better way of going through the process.
“When your coaching staff is not even questioned by the board or other administrators and your returning players are not interviewed, it’s difficult to figure out how things were arrived upon,” he said. “That’s probably my biggest struggle.”
The Lynden community and others from across the state had immediate reactions on social media with most of them expressing disbelief and shock.
“For a very difficult time, it’s been those types of notes, messages and phone calls that have carried us through the last couple of days,” DeBoer said. “The outpouring via text and calls, even on social media, from people from Lynden High School across the tracks and so many parents, players and former players has been pretty amazing and really special to us.”
DeBoer, a Lynden Christian graduate, said his family has deep roots in the city and three children enrolled at Lynden Christian. His son Jaden, who was named first team all-state this year, was a key piece to the Lyncs’ run and will be a senior next year.
There’s no telling yet what’s next for the family, but DeBoer said they’re excited to see what’s in store. He said seven schools have reached out, but there won’t be any decisions made immediately.
“The message needs to be there that we love Lynden Chrisitan,” DeBoer said. “It’s a school I attended and our kids are attending there. It’s a very special place for us.”