The gym seems so empty without Coach Patrick Dieter.
Dr. Chad Jumper is struck by how odd it feels not having the familiar presence of a mentor who had touched so many lives.
“I had some struggles with college and medical school,” said Jumper, a 1992 graduate of Boiling Springs High School. “I was going through some doubts. I turned to Coach Dieter for support.”
The helpful manner and encouraging words proved to be a game-changer for Jumper, who played point guard on the Bubbler basketball team from 1988 to graduation.
Today, Jumper is not only the town doctor and school physician, he is the father of a boy now old enough to participate in open gym at the high school.
Dropping off his son, Jumper has noticed that something special has been missing since Dieter died on Feb. 18 at age 61. The emptiness got him thinking.
Two weeks ago, Jumper submitted an email to Matthew Strine, South Middleton School District superintendent, asking if the basketball court could be named after Dieter.
“I’ve been talking with a group of basketball alumni,” Jumper said. “We decided it was the right thing to do. Naming the court after Coach Dieter will make us feel like we have honored him, that he will always be in the gym.”
The school board has the authority to grant naming rights to a facility as a way to honor or memorialize the contributions of an individual or organization.
Procedurally, requests for naming rights must first be made in writing to the superintendent or a designee. The superintendent then brings the request to the facilities committee of the school board for study and review. If the committee recommends the request, it is brought before the full board for a vote.
Committee members Monday reviewed the email submitted by Jumper who also has the support of current basketball players. The committee asked Zach Gump, director of buildings and grounds, to obtain a price quote to paint words in memory of Dieter on the basketball court of the gym.
Jumper and the other alumni would like the board to allow the words “Coach Dieter Court” to be painted at two points on the court. One location would be in front of the Bubbler team bench where Dieter once stood at every home game managing his players. The other would be in front of the home side bleachers where generations of Bubblers had watched Dieter in action.
If approved, it would be part of an already approved maintenance project to refurbish the gym floor starting the second or third week of June. The words will be covered with clear coat to preserve the tribute.
With work already planned for the gym floor, now would be the opportune time to honor Dieter, committee chairman Steven Bear said Monday. He suggested board members discuss the proposal at the May 20 meeting before taking a formal vote as early as June 3.
“It’s a great idea,” Bear said Monday. “The court being named for him puts it on there that this is what he loved. He was a great educator and a great friend to a lot of the students.”
A Bubbler graduate, Bear did not play high school basketball but he did have Dieter as a social studies teacher for three years. The two men would later work together after Bear returned to South Middleton and became a school board member. Dieter twice served as athletic director for the school district from 1990 to 1999 and again from 2012 to 2018.
Shortly after his death, The Sentinel published a story about Dieter detailing his legacy in the South Middleton community. Jumper was among those interviewed as a Bubbler graduate who benefited from Dieter’s advice.
A child of divorce, Jumper credits Dieter with being instrumental in helping him get through college. “He had a way of gently guiding us in the right direction during school and even after school. He was always there when we needed him.”
Jumper and the other alumni delayed submitting their request until late April to give the Dieter family time to mourn. Supporters of the tribute want to work with the district on the font, size and color of the text for “Coach Dieter Court”, Jumper said.
“It is still to be determined if the district will pay or if we need to raise funds as alumni,” he said. “We are willing to raise money. We are open to feedback from the board. We want to name the court after him. We feel that this is the best way to do that.”