PORT ANGELES — Bob Klock, who won 223 games as a head basketball coach at Port Angeles High School, left a legacy as the “Godfather of Port Angeles Hoops” in his wake, with countless of his players moving on to college hoops, coaching and passing on his knowledge to a new generation of coaches.
Klock passed away Jan. 17 in Bullhead City, Ariz. He was 84. He was a teacher, coach and athletic director at Port Angeles High School from 1958 to 1985, serving as the Roughriders’ head basketball coach for 16 years and the athletic director for 21 years.
In a 2014 Daily News article interviewing Klock, he talked about how he was first lured to Port Angeles by legendary football coach Jack Elway (John Elway’s father).
Klock and Elway grew up together and Elway, who only stayed in Port Angeles for a couple of years, called up his old friend and convinced him to come to this area. Klock, who played basketball at Washington State, took him up on the offer.
While Elway moved on to various coaching stops shortly afterward, Klock stayed for decades. He at first didn’t have that much immediate success as a head coach, going 3-17 in his first year.
“There were some unhappy people in town. But, we weathered the storm and all of that,” Klock said back in the 2014 interview.
Boy, did he. Klock took his teams to the state tournament four times — 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1984 — and won six league championships, while compiling an overall record of 223-118. His best year as coach came in 1966, when he led the Roughriders to a second-place finish at the state tournament, still the highest-ever finish for a Riders’ basketball team.
It was Lee Sinnes, who played for Klock, played at Pacific Lutheran and followed him as a coach at Port Angeles, who dubbed him “the Godfather of Port Angeles hoops.”
“I tell you, everything I have done in my professional life I owe to him,” Sinnes said. “He get me into coaching. I’m in the (Washington state coaches) Hall of Fame because of him.”
Sinnes said one of Klock’s big strengths is he knew how to communicate with kids. “If you needed to be hugged, he would hug you. If you needed to be chewed out, he wasn’t afraid to do that, either.”
Another one of his strengths was his flexibility. In Port Angeles’ title game season, the Roughriders lost a couple of top scorers and went from a team that averaged 80 points a game to 32-33 points a game — but still won. Klock wasn’t locked into a system and changed the team’s strategy to fit its talent.
“Bob had to change to make us successful,” Sinnes said.
Bruce Skinner was another longtime friend of Klock’s.
“He was the best teacher I’ve ever had and I never had him for an academic subject,” said Skinner, who served as a statistician for the team. Klock was an English teach at Port Angeles High.
“He was a real mentor who turned into a real friend,” Skinner said.
Scooter Chapman covered Klock and his teams, including that powerful 1966, team for KONP and the Daily News.
“He was a great coach and a great guy,” said Chapman. “He was a coach who adapted to his players.”
One of Chapman’s memories of Klock was that he was a “suit and tie” guy who always wore a sports coat to games. When he occasionally got upset during a game, “that sports coat would come off and he’d fling it into the second row.”
Rick Ross, Associate Dean for Athletics and Student Programs at Peninsula College, covered Klock and his teams as a young reporter.
“My memory of Bob was that he was very well respected and a very intense and animated basketball coach. He cared deeply about the young men he coached. He also had a very high basketball IQ and not only drilled fundamentals, but was tactically very strong. He had some outstanding teams over the years he coached at Port Angeles High School,” said Ross.
Sinnes said that while a number of Klock’s players went on to play college ball and coach themselves, even some of their kids have gone on to coach, as well, including Sinnes’ own son. Another well-known Klock player was Bernie Fryer, who was all-conference at Brigham Young, then went on to play and referee in the NBA.
“That all came from him,” Sinnes said.
A celebration of Klock’s life will be held at Seven Cedars Casino from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Port Angeles High School Athletic Department c/o 304 E. Park Ave., Port Angeles.
Port Angeles Athletic Director Dwayne Johnson said the school plans to start a scholarship fund. He also said there’s been discussions about new basketball backboards at the school in honor of Klock.