Former longtime High School boys basketball coach Lee Sinnes will be inducted Thursday into the Washington State Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Tacoma. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

Former longtime High School boys basketball coach Lee Sinnes will be inducted Thursday into the Washington State Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Tacoma. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

For the love of basketball; former Port Angeles coach joining Hall of Fame

PORT ANGELES — The Sinnes family revolves around a basketball.

Head of family Lee Sinnes is a former all-state high school and Hall of Fame college basketball player, and a longtime high school coach.

He coached his son and future son-in-law in high school. Both of his daughters played high school basketball.

His son and son-in-law now both coach high school basketball, and coach against each other in the same league.

And his wife, Sandy, well — she lives and breathes basketball.

“We are both crazy for basketball,” Sandy Sinnes said about her and her husband.

It was a match made in heaven for the Port Angeles High School sweethearts.

Lee was the star basketball player, earning all-state honors his senior year in 1966.

Sandy Olsen never missed a game her boyfriend played in. She even followed Lee to all of his road games.

“His parents were so good to take me to all the away games,” she said.

Lee Sinnes went on to have a four-year Hall of Fame career at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma as a 6-foot-5 forward.

Sandy, also a PLU student, was there at every game.

They married during their junior year.

“I married the whole basketball team,” Sandy said. “All of the players came over to our house.”

Becomes a coach

After leaving college, Lee coached high school basketball for 37 years, 24 as a head coach. And all but six of those years were at Port Angeles.

Sandy was there for almost every game.

Lee and Sandy named their second child, a girl, after one of their favorite high school teams.

Lee, who witnessed many changes in the sport over the years — including introduction of a shot clock, adding a 3-point line and the start of Title IX as girls were given the opportunity to play sports — will be inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Thursday.

Sandy will be there.

“I owe my success to my wife,” Lee Sinnes said. “A coach is away from his family a lot, and she supported me the whole way.”

Sandy admits that it was a big change when her young husband first became a coach.

““I married a basketball player, not a basketball coach,” Sandy said.

But Sandy quickly adjusted to being a coach’s wife.

“I went to all his games, and I even kept score the first few years,” she said.

Sandy, who should get an assist at Thursday’s Hall of Fame banquet, was pregnant with the couple’s second child during the fateful 1975 season when Lee was coaching Mark Morris of Longview as the Monarchs made a run at state.

It was his fifth year of coaching when an underrated Mark Morris team shocked a lot of people by capturing second in state to Cleveland.

“We had seven seniors on the team but none of them went on to play college basketball,” Sinnes said.

“They were intelligent, and they understood what we wanted to do.”

During the state playoffs, an area newspaper wrote that Mark Morris was making “a Cinderella run at state.”

Lee Sinnes told the team that he and Sandy would name their second child after the team, Cinderella, if it was a girl.

And that’s how Cindy, now 37, received her name.

Another one of Sinnes’ all-time favorite teams was the 1997 Port Angeles squad, which also made a good state run.

That Roughriders team still has a school record of 22 consecutive wins.

It also claimed seventh place in state, and along the way beat Lincoln High School of Tacoma — one of the most talented teams in state — by three points for the West Central District championship.

“That was probably the most well-played high school game I have coached,” Sinnes said.

“I had some good players on that team. The seniors were on the team since 1995 as sophomores when James Madison was a senior.”

Madison probably was the best player Sinnes has coached, and could be the top male player ever for the Riders.

Madison still holds the boys school career scoring record but was surpassed overall by his little sister, Jessica, who now owns the all-time career scoring record at Port Angeles.

The Madison family is one of the many Port Angeles clans that have enriched Sinnes’ life.

“Coaching local families has been a real award for me,” he said.

And no family has dominated Port Angeles hoops in recent years more than the Madisons.

First there was Mike Madison, the uncle of James, Jon, Jake and Jessica Madison.

Enough players for their own basketball team.

Sinnes coached Mike back in 1976. Mike Madison was all-state for the Riders, and later All-American for Concordia University in Portland.

James was all-state in 1995 and went on to play at Cleveland State.

Jon took his prep all-state status to University of Anchorage Alaska, and a few years later sister Jessica followed him to the same school.

Sinnes coached all five of the Madisons, and was able to help coach Jessica when he was a varsity assistant in the girls program late in his career.

Another highlight of Sinnes’ career was coaching his son, Matt, who graduated in 2004.

“Coaching my son was very special,” he said.

Another highlight was coaching his future son-in-law and godson, Jason Carrell, in 1991 and ’92.

Matt Sinnes currently coaches Puyallup High School basketball while his brother-in-law coaches at Bethel in Spanaway. Both teams play in the 4A South Puget Sound League.

Carrell and Shari Sinnes, Lee and Sandy’s oldest daughter, were sweethearts at Port Angeles High School.

Lee and Sandy met Jason’s parents through the kids.

Sandy and Rhonda Carrell have been best friends ever since.

And when Jason’s father died when he was 15, Lee Sinnes offered to help raise him, and the Sinnes’ became his godparents.

That’s all to explain about the T-shirts when the Bethel Braves and Puyallup Vikings play each other in basketball.

Talk about stretching the parents’ loyalty a little bit.

Rhonda wears a T-shirt that says on front “Bethel Braves’ coach is my son.” On back is the message, “Puyallup Vikings’ coach is my godson.”

Sandy wears a T-shirt that says on front “Puyallup Vikings’ coach is my son.” The back says, you guessed it, “Bethel Braves’ coach is my godson.”

Another interesting twist to the story is that Matt married his co-coach. Well, that was a few years ago when Matt was applying for his first head coaching job at a junior high school in the Bethel school district.

His future wife, Sarah, was applying for the same job.

The school administration couldn’t decide between them and named them co-coaches. The rest is history as they say.

And now Sarah is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

Lee Sinnes will be introduced at the Hall of Fame banquet by his longtime friend, fellow coach, fellow Hall of Fame inductee and 1964 Port Angeles High School graduate, Dave Denny.

Denny, who made it to the Hall in 2006, will have a lot to say about his old friend.

“It’s a huge honor for Lee to be inducted into the Hall,” Denny said.

“It’s an honor anytime you’re recognized by your peers.

“The reasons he’s being inducted is that he’s been a great coach for a long period of time. He has coached winning programs at both Mark Morris and Port Angeles.

“He has contributed to his communities.

“But you don’t get inducted just for winning.

“Lee has been a positive role model for kids throughout the years.”

And, as in most families, Lee’s wife gets the final say.

“I love Lee more now than when we first met,” Sandy said.

“He has been a great father, husband, counselor and friend, and he set a good example for the kids.

“I wouldn’t change anything.”

And for the love of basketball, there goes the Sinnes family.

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