Photo Credit to Patrick Cipollone
This past Sunday the WNY basketball community received word that Tim Dyrek a longtime assistant with St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute had passed. Most commonly known as Coach Dyrek, he was a fixture in many Ken-Ton area gymnasiums for over 40 years.
A lifelong resident of Kenmore, Dyrek graduated from Kenmore West High School in 1975 where he played on the varsity basketball team. His childhood friend and neighbor Jerry Archambault said that Tim was there whenever anybody needed him. “My first car had an 8-track player in it, Tim gave me three grocery bags full of 8-tracks” said Archambault. “Some of my best memories (some better left untold) were with Tim.”
After high-school Dyrek attended Buff State and his coaching career started shortly after. His high-school coaching career began at Cardinal O’Hara as an assistant on the varsity bench. He had two stints as the head coach of the varsity squad.
One player in particular that Dyrek had a profound impact on was Timm Ciffa;
Thank you for asking me to send you my thoughts and memories on a person that meant so much to me in Coach Dyrek. There are so many stories and memories that I could share about Coach but it could never even scratch the surface to illustrate the kind of man that he was and the character he had. Although he was my coach, Basketball was so much more than a game to him and anyone who had the privilege to share the court with him.
Basketball was simply a small part of the big picture. It was about life. It was about young student athletes becoming men. It was about respecting others and yourself. It was about how to conduct yourself on, and more importantly off the court. To put it simple, Coach cared about you as a person not as a ball player.
When I transferred to O’Hara from Kenmore West there was one person who went out of his way to make sure I had everything I needed to make the transition as easy and as smooth as possible. More importantly there was one person who went out of his way to make sure I wasn’t going to fall into the same traps and bad habits I had that caused me to miss an entire year of High school sports and eventually have to leave Kenmore West at a chance to make up for my childish mistakes. Coach Dyrek did this for me.
As far as Basketball I had the privilege to play for Coach for 2 years at O’Hara and in 1996, the unique experience of playing for him on a team that traveled to Switzerland to play. I would like to say that during my time playing for Coach that he took me under his wing. I’d like to think that I was “his guy” because he met me 3 times a week to work on my jump shot.
I’d like to think that I was special because when I broke my leg he took me every single day before school at 6am to physical therapy. But the truth is he would have done that for every single one of his players! And every single one of us was taken under his wing or considered to be “his guys”. That’s simply how Coach made you feel.
I’ve played sports my entire life and been around a lot of great coaches, but no one can ever make you feel as important and loved like Coach Dyrek did.
Not long after I graduated from O’Hara I found out that I was going to be a father. Without question the scariest day of my life. At 2am I called Coach to ask him to meet me. Without hesitation he did. I remember sitting down across from him and putting the home pregnancy test on the table in front of him. His very first sentence was “Ok Timm, you got this”. Never one word of judgment or ridicule. Never anything but love and support and simply asking me how could he help. Throughout the 9 months and early when my son was born Coach would go out of his way to make sure I had work or side jobs to ensure I had enough money for my young family. At the time he owned a few rental properties and would make up jobs that needed to be done just so I could work. He would also let me bartend weddings or parties with him at the Knights of Columbus or simply give me his shifts so I could make as much money as possible.
There are so many stories and memories like these that I can share about Coach. There are so many lives that he has touched on and off the court. There are not many people that you come across in your life outside of your own family that can have such a positive impact on your life. Coach Dyrek was this person for so many. I thank God that I was blessed to not only call Tim Dyrek my coach but my friend.
Coach Dyrek left O’Hara in 2006 and was brought into the St. Joe’s program by varsity head coach Mark Simon. “When Tim decided to leave O’Hara we couldn’t have been luckier. We had an opening for our Freshman team and thankfully Tim took it.” Simon was a sophomore at Ken-West when Dyrek was a senior. “Of course I knew him well back then. We were at the Crosby courts playing ball all the time” Simon said.
“Tim did whatever needed to be done to help these kids. He was a mentor to a lot of boys throughout the years, he is leaving a great legacy here at St. Joe’s.” It was Dyrek that helped Simon into his first coaching job. “Tim put a great word in for me with Sister Renee Francis at St. John the Baptist in Kenmore and that’s where I started.”
Throughout the last few years Dyrek was battling through different, undisclosed illnesses. “He’d never let you know if anything was bothering him, he wouldn’t ask for help. Very independent, one of the most unselfish people you would have ever met.”
Simon said that Dyrek ran all of the summer basketball camps and spent countless hours in the weight room and at all hours of the day. “He would be there working on kids shots or skills whenever they wanted. Tim had a profound impact on a number of our players through the years.”
I asked Simon if St. Joe’s would entertain a tournament or showcase in Dyrek’s honor, even suggesting a best-of-three tournament with just the Marauders and Hawks. “That’s a great idea, we will have to think of something special like that” Simon said.
“You know, it wasn’t just during the 9-12 high-school years where Tim was involved with these guys. It went beyond that, into their daily adult lives, that’s the legacy he leaves, that profound impact, not many can have that” added Simon.
Former Marauder Athletic Director Pete Schneider is going to miss Dyrek. “He did a lot for me, he was always available, whenever we needed him” Schneider said. “Coach would constantly ask if I needed anything. He’d work the tables at Monsignor Martin events, he wanted to be there.”
Schneider also added “He had one of the biggest hearts of any coach I have ever been associated with. Countless hours of free time he sacrificed to help a kid work out at the gym, just a huge loss for the basketball community.”
One of those players Dyrek spent quality time with in his last couple years while with St. Joe’s was Noah Hausbeck a junior. Hausbeck will be the first to tell you that he was not blessed with a lot of skill. But anyone who has ever been on a court with Noah, quickly realizes he has the work ethic and heart to compete. Coach Dyrek was one of those that believed in Hausbeck. “He was able to get me to do things I never thought I could do. He helped me realize that I was good enough to make the varsity team.” Hausbeck said. “He was one of those coaches that had a story for any situation and he was just an amazing coach. He was the type that could get people to dig down deep and work hard, he got the best out of people.”
Dyrek was also a member of the Knights of Columbus in Kenmore. A funeral service is arranged for Saturday morning at 11, St. Paul’s Church on Delaware Ave in Kenmore.