Dimond Basketball: A Program As Strong As Its Community

Dimond Basketball has been the model for consistency in Alaska for generations.

In the last decade, the Lynx have won 3 state championships while amassing a win percentage of .755 over the last 25 years, far and away the best in 4A basketball.

This prolonged success is more than can be attributed to a few “good groups of kids” or even a single coach. Dominance has been ingrained into the program itself.

The first person I sought out for an explanation regarding Dimond’s longevity of winning seasons was Joe Studnek. Joe is a 1976 Dimond graduate. He currently writes for “Max Preps” about Alaska basketball, and he is widely regarded as the state’s biggest basketball fan and historian.

Studnek was actually the person that brought Dimond’s win percentage to my attention, so I decided to ask him what he thought was the main catalyst behind it. His answer was rather simple.

“Strong local hoops program for the youth,” he said. “The Sand Lake, Jewel Lake and Bayshore areas have always had a strong youth program for hoops, and it just kept filtering up through middle school to good JV teams and eventually varsity.

“ It has a feeder system that is really successful, more so than any other school,” he said.

Strong community ties in the Dimond area seemed to be the key to Studnek. He went on to speak volumes about Dimond’s alumni as another reason for its basketball success.

“Strong community support and alumni support helps promote the program to parents in the area probably more than any other school in Anchorage,” he said.

Many graduates are proud of their high schools, but according to Studnek Dimond pride and alumni support exceeds the norm. He offered thoughts on the reason behind this.

“The Dimond community has always been close. They don’t have turnover in the population in the neighborhoods like Bartlett or East do, for example. Those populations come and go, but the Dimond area has always been close knit and supportive of each other,” he said.

According to Studnek, the success on the basketball court is a reflection of the strength of the community.

This viewpoint came as a surprise to me. To get another perspective on this, I talked to Calvin (Cal) Lauwers.

Lauwers is a Dimond grad as well. He was a player on a Dimond team that went to a state championship, and he is now a coach on the Dimond basketball coaching staff.

His thoughts also reaffirmed what Studnek told me.

“It really starts with the youth programs,” he said.

“There have always been really good P.E. teachers at Dimond feeder schools. Plus the team runs that youth camp every year that pulls in a ton of kids,” he said.

This was another excellent point. For nearly 30 years the Dimond basketball players and coaches have put on the “Lynx Hoop Camp” over spring break, a time period that runs parallel with the .755 winning record.

Every year dozens of kids attend, and many of them end up playing for the Lynx years later. This is something that current head coach Brad Lauwers is very proud of.

“I started this camp in my first years of coaching at Dimond,” he told me.

“It is big for us not only because it is a fundraiser, but it also gets kids and their parents to form a connection with the program and start to watch us,” he said.

It is hard to imagine any young player watching and not wanting to be a Lynx one day.

Dimond basketball has a winning tradition unmatched in the state of Alaska, and its success is as unwavering as the community behind it.