The Sudden Death of a Valley Basketball Coach

KFSN 52-year-old Dean Stahowski was the Assistant Junior Varsity Coach for the San Joaquin Memorial basketball team.

Before that, he was the JV Coach at Clovis West for years.

Dean Stahowski has been described as a coach tough on the court but kind at heart who left a lasting impression on the boys he coached the past 2 decades.

Dean Sstahowski was a coach whose influence lasted far beyond four quarters or even high school for the players he coached.

Brent Sarabian, Former Player: "People that didn't know him just saw a big guy with a scruffy beard but everyone that did know him knows that he loved every kid that he coached like we were his own kids and he respected everyone of us."

Brent Sarabian looked through yearbooks and pictures Friday, still stunned at the coach's sudden death. He played for Stahowski three years ago on the Clovis West JV team.

"Had it not been for him I probably wouldn't have played basketball at Clovis West. He gave me a chance and he gave every kid an equal opportunity."

During an away game Thursday night at Sunnyside High, the coach collapsed after halftime.

He died a short time later of a suspected heart attack.

His son McCauley plays on the team and watched the trainer and others try to save his father.

Karen Sowby worked with Stahowski for 8 years at Clovis West.

Karen Sowby: "He was one of those coaches that could be intense during the game and when the game was over, it was over. Win or lose he'd put his arms around his boys and call them around him about life lessons about winning or losing or going through struggles or whatever."

Last year Stahowski left Clovis West after 18 years to coach at San Joaquin Memorial, players say one thing he always taught by example was how to play fair.

"He never had favorites or he never treated anyone differently everyone was treated the same by him and that's one thing you don't find in people anymore and we're all going to miss that about him."

Dean Stahowski also has two other children a son and another son, Chris, who coaches basketball at Madera High, and a daughter.

San Joaquin Memorial held a special prayer service this morning for the coach and offered grief counselors to students.

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