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Sparks fills boys basketball coaching vacancy
by Dan Eckles
Jul 26, 2011 | 3005 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - New Sparks High boys basketball coach Dan Schreiber is excited over the opportunity to lead the Railroaders.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - New Sparks High boys basketball coach Dan Schreiber is excited over the opportunity to lead the Railroaders.
Sparks High finally got its man. For more than eight months, the Railroaders’ boys basketball program has been in limbo, but that ends this week as SHS officials announced Dan Schreiber would take over the program.

Schreiber had been at Incline High for the past 15 years, running the Highlanders boys basketball program for 14 of those before taking last year off. He had also been Incline’s athletic director the past 10 years.

“I am totally excited. We had kind of built up a rivalry between Incline and Sparks,” Schreiber said. “Now instead of preparing for them, I’ll be leading them. I think it will be be a lot of fun.”

Schreiber takes over an SHS program that faced some leadership turmoil last winter. Veteran coach Dick Lee was suspended by the school district in the opening weeks of November workouts. He is still engaged in a legal battle to resolve the issue. Lee’s assistant, Mike Jones, took over the head coaching reins and guided Sparks to a state tournament berth, its third in the last four seasons.

It was unclear through much of last spring where Sparks would turn to fill the position on a long-term basis. That was cleared up when the Sparks High administration was given the green light to fill a vacant P.E. position.

After 15 years of commuting to the Lake on a daily basis from Reno, Schreiber, who is a P.E. teacher, jumped at the opportunity to work at Sparks. And Railroader athletic officials were happy he did.

“With that opening and Dan looking for a job, it was a perfect fit for our school,” Sparks High athletic director Rob Kittrell said. “He brings a lot with his basketball knowledge and his AD knowledge. He just adds a lot to our Sparks athletic community.”

Schreiber’s coaching resume speaks for itself. He took Incline to the postseason every year from 1997 through 2010. He guided the Highlanders to three Northern Region championships in the 3A and 2A ranks and won a state title in 2010.

Lee is widely regarded as one of the top basketball coaches in the state, who taught the right things. Schreiber takes over a Sparks program where the cupboard is not bare and tradition runs thick.

“Not to put any pressure on Dan, but I told him we’ve always been a basketball school. I think he’ll be able to continue the success we’ve had,” Kittrell said. “This hire is what’s right for our kids. It’s nice to have last year out of the way and behind us.”

Schreiber, 43, graduated from Washington High in Fremont, Calif. He went on to college and got his undergraduate degree at Bethel College in North Newton, Kan. He likes the idea of taking over a tradition-rich basketball program at Sparks, which has an enrollment of 1,200 compared to Incline, which had less than 400.

“That will be a nice change,” he said. “Having a program with a freshmen team will be nice. At a small school like Incline we only had the two levels and those freshmen had to be ready to play on the JV. A lot were not. Here, our kids should get quality game time earlier.

“At Incline, I was fortunate to have some pretty athletic groups, but I think we should have consistently more athletic groups here with a greater pool of athletes. Hopefully, we’ll have more depth.”

Schreiber did not commit to a style of play. He said coaches need to access talent each year and apply a system that works best for that group, but he also admitted he has some preferences.

“I like to play an attacking style defense, one that forces the offense to adjust to you,” Schreiber said. “But every year you have to adjust to your kids. I cannot say right now that we’ll run the flex offense and play 2-3 zone.”

The long-time coach believes fundraising is one of his strengths. It will need to be as most athletes at Sparks High don’t have a lot of family financial resources.

Schreiber said he plans to meet with the Railroaders returning players in the next week and start to get an idea about his program’s strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, Schreiber said he’ll start offseason workouts with his athletes after the state’s dead period ends in mid-September. The first official day of practice for the 2011-12 basketball season is Saturday, Nov. 12.

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