EVERETT — Kristina Schumacher has a distinct memory of when Chet Hovde broke character.
Hovde, the longtime Everett Community College women’s basketball coach, was renown for his laid back coaching style, often sitting quietly at the end of the bench with his legs crossed rather than engaging in histrionics on the sideline the way many basketball coaches do.
But on this occasion Hovde showed a different side of himself.
“There was one game at the (Northwest Athletic Conference) tournament where it all went out the window,” said Schumacher, Everett’s star guard from 2006-08. “We were up 20 over a highly ranked team that was expected to beat us, and he was on his feet, up and down the sideline, chirping at the refs. I’d never seen Chet in this form. But we were at a point where he was going to do more than he normally does for us so that we could place as high as we could in the tournament. He knew this group would go to war for him, and he was going to do the same.”
Hovde, who led the Trojans’ women’s basketball program through most of its existence, retired last week after more than 33 years at the helm. He leaves behind a legacy of grace and dignity, making Everett a place where the players knew they were cared for.
“He was very good with his players and he dealt with each of them in their own way,” said former Everett CC athletic director Larry Walker, who hired Hovde in 1988, and who as the Trojans’ longtime men’s basketball coach was a close colleague. “I thought he always brought the best out of the young ladies. He always dealt with them in their own world, and I thought he did a really good job with that.”
“It was time,” Hovde said about his decision to retire. “I’ve been doing it for three decades or more, and I had a good run. It’s time to turn it over to someone who’s young.”
Hovde, 74, is Everett through and through. He grew up in north Everett and attended Everett High School, where he was an all-state guard on the boys basketball team. After graduating in 1965 he headed to the University of Washington on a basketball scholarship, then finished out his college career at the University of Puget Sound.
Hovde first arrived at Everett CC in 1978, serving as an assistant coach on the men’s basketball team under Norm Lowery. He switched to the women’s team the next season, taking over as head coach mid-season, and he’s coached women’s hoops ever since. He had successful stints as head coach at both Puget Sound and Edmonds Community College before returning to Everett for good in 1988.
Hovde’s been around so long that there’s debate about his record. Hovde counts himself with 501 victories during his time at Everett, which aligns with the celebration of his 400th career victory in 2014. NWAC records show Hovde with a 438-475 record from 1988-2021, while current Everett CC athletic director Garet Studer tabulated 498 career NWAC victories when incorporating Hovde’s time at Edmonds.
But for Hovde, who also served as a physical education teacher at the college during most of his tenure, the numbers are the secondary part of the story.
Hovde was a player’s coach in every regard. In his mild-mannered way he looked after his players off the court, and he let them play with freedom from micromanagement on it. His office at the school was adorned with photos of every team he coached, and he kept in touch with his former players by organizing alumni games.
“He said very little, but what he said was very influential on the game,” Schumacher said.
“He’s the most patient coach I’ve ever been around,” added Schumacher, who incorporates some of Hovde’s styles in her own coaching of the Inglemoor High School girls basketball team. “Being a CC coach, you get kids from so many different backgrounds, and some may be a little more challenging or don’t have good grades or don’t take direction well. But he managed to make everyone on the spectrum come together and work as a team.”
Being around for more than three decades meant Hovde witnessed the evolution of women’s basketball.
“Back in the old days you’d go after two or three good players, and because of that you could win a title,” Hovde said. “Nowadays there’s so much talent out there that you have to turn over every rock. Recruiting has become big-time.”
Hovde leaves on top. The coronavirus pandemic limited play to within the region in 2021, and despite playing most of the season with just seven players — Hovde navigated the waters despite short benches many times over the years — the Trojans finished 10-3 to claim the region title.
“Being around the student-athletes was a privilege,” said Hovde, who plans to spend more time traveling with his wife, but did leave the door open to lending a helping hand at the college level if asked. “Getting to know them and listen to what they want to do in life, that was the main thing I liked.
“I always tried to be positive. I have a mild attitude, and I think that came out in my coaching. I cared about each player, not just the studs, they were all important. I hope I came across that way.”