Monroe’s Dickson steps down

It’s not an official retirement, but Alan Dickson has decided to take some time off from coaching.

After plenty of reflection, Dickson, Monroe High School’s head girls basketball coach the past 13 seasons, submitted his resignation Tuesday.

“I really didn’t want to resign,” Dickson said, “but I’ve been weighing it for a long time.” The good news for Dickson, who plans to continuing teaching at Monroe Middle School, is that his battle with prostate cancer isn’t the cause of his departure. And his passion for the game hasn’t waned.

A key factor is a desire to spend more time with family, including 15 grandchildren. One of them, 13-year-old Taylor Vaught, is a special-needs child whom Dickson plans to assist more often.

“We just have a really good connection,” Dickson said of Vaught. “Her eyes light up when I walk in the room. I need a year to dedicate to that. … I feel like I owe my family a year.”

Dickson, 63, also hopes to spend time finishing a book that he started about 20 years ago and reach out to people who contacted him after they read about his successful fight with cancer. He said his health is good but he figures that avoiding stress that comes with coaching, at least for awhile, can only help.

“And then, if my wife lets me, I’ll get back into coaching again,” said Dickson, who in March 2005 was diagnosed with cancer.

The longtime coach has had previous health scares. In October 2003 he suffered a major heart attack during a pick-up game.

Monroe has been a consistent winner since Dickson took over the program. In his second season, 1995-1996, the Bearcats made history by advancing to the Class 3A state tournament. They reached the semifinals and placed third.

“We kind of set a standard,” Dickson said, “and I tried to maintain that through the years.” He cited 2003-2004, when Monroe went 26-3 and placed fifth in 4A, as one of his most memorable seasons.

During Dickson’s tenure at Monroe, more than two dozen Bearcats players went on to play in college, including post Kirsten Thompson (Arizona State University). Sarah Morton, a Monroe senior, is a Washington recruit.

This past season, a senior-fueled Monroe squad won the Wesco North title with a division record of 14-2 but did not advance beyond the district tourney, finishing 17-7 overall.

Although he said he might return to coaching, preferably at the high school level, Dickson isn’t sure how everything will turn out. Regardless, folks around Monroe will always associate him with girls basketball.

“I go around town,” said Dickson, “and they always call me coach, even people I don’t know. I guess I’ll always be coach.”

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