Mike Arte. It’s a name synonymous with the girls basketball program at Gonzaga Prep and the greater Spokane region. After 34 years of coaching the varsity girls, he’s handing in his clipboard.
“It was certainly the right time for me to retire. We had such a tremendous season, going 18-5 overall and 17-3 in the GSL. This squad was such a joy to be around each and every day and they exceeded all expectations in their success this year. I can’t think of any better way to step away from the job I love than stepping away with such fond thoughts of our accomplishments these past few months.”
In a sport with a stat for almost everything, Arte excelled at cultivating in his players the qualities you can’t put a finger on: The value of servant leadership to create a “team first” mentality. How to be a fierce competitor. Setting high expectations while leading with kindness.
Players knew his program not only for its balance of competition and fun, but also for its spiritual and community aspects. From team retreats, summer tournaments in different states, service opportunities, and team meals, players experienced Prep's Jesuit mission come to life through girls basketball.
More than 200 girls played for Arte through the years, many garnering all-GSL honors including Jennifer Williams `97, Theresa Palmer `97, Juliann Laney `01, Corrina O’Brien `06, Tia Presley `11, Lindsay Stockton `12, Hannah Caudill `14, Otiona Gildon `15, Laura Stockton `15. And his impact reaches far beyond these players and their accolades.
“My admiration and respect for Coach Arte continues to grow on a daily basis on the court, off the court and in the classroom,” says Sarah Long `09, who played for Arte from 2006-2009. “He fostered my love for basketball at an early age, effortlessly balancing teaching fundamental skills with precision while bringing joy and built-in competitions to pretty much every drill.”
Arte began his career in Kellogg, Idaho in 1981, coaching junior high and JV boys basketball. In 1983 he was hired at Gonzaga Prep and coached JV boys basketball and freshman baseball. In 1988, he was named varsity girls basketball head coach at Gonzaga Prep. In more than 3 decades of coaching varsity girls basketball at Prep, he amassed a record of 481-293, including 6 Greater Spokane League titles, and was named GSL coach of the year 4 times. He took teams to the State Tournament 6 times, and brought home 4A State titles in 2014 and 2015. He was an active member of the Washington State Girls Basketball Coaches Association and has been an advocate for girls basketball and girls sports across the region.
As Arte reflects on his accomplishments, he takes with him what he hopes mattered most to his players as well: “In establishing our girls basketball program over these last three-plus decades I hoped to provide a positive experience for all that was important in their development as young ladies. Learning life skills to go along with their basketball development was always the ultimate goal. The relationships that were developed along the way are ones that will continue to be cherished throughout the remainder of my life.”
Although he’s stepping away from the game in an official role, he’ll still be in the classroom at Gonzaga Prep, where he continues to teach in the Math Department.
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