April 18, 1957 – May 28, 2017
Winning was an important thing for Timothy W. Dyrek, of Kenmore, who coached several championship parochial high school basketball teams during a career of more than 30 years, but it wasn’t the only thing.
In addition to skills on the court, he emphasized the importance of sportsmanship and good character.
His motto, repeated on his Twitter home page, was: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
“He just found a niche in basketball,” his brother Bill said. “He taught life lessons through basketball. He had great relationships with the kids, with their parents, too. It always amazed me at Christmas time the number of Christmas cards he’d get. There were like hundreds. He had an impact on a lot of people.”
Mr. Dyrek died Sunday in Sisters Hospital of complications from a lengthy illness. He was 60.
Born in Kenmore, he was a 1975 graduate of Kenmore West High School, where he played basketball for four years, and continued playing informally while he attended Buffalo State College.
Mr. Dyrek began his coaching career at St. Andrew’s Country Day School in 1976, then went to Cardinal O’Hara High School, where he was assistant varsity basketball coach from 1981 to 1986, then served as head coach until 1990.
For three years, he assisted in basketball clinics and with various sports programs, then returned to O’Hara in 1993 as assistant varsity basketball coach, helping lead the Hawks to State Class C championships in 1993 and 1994. He again moved up to head coach in 1999.
He also ran the popular Cardinal O’Hara summer boys’ basketball camps, instructing players from all over Western New York.
His team received the Pennell Sportsmanship Award in 2002, when the Hawks went to the finals in the Class C New York State Catholic High School Championship Tournament. They also were five-time runners-up for that honor.
His 2004 team was given the IAABO (International Association of Approved Basketball Officials) Sportsmanship Award. He also received the NBA/WNBA/NFHS Sportsmanship Award for outstanding coaching sportsmanship.
“He didn’t coach basketball players,” his brother said. “He coached student athletes. He’d correct you on that.”
In 2006, he left O’Hara to become freshman basketball coach at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.
“Tim did so much for the school beside coach basketball,” Angelo Sciandra, O’Hara’s athletic director, told the Niagara Gazette after Mr. Dyrek resigned. “He was a great spokesman for the school. He did so much for kids behind the scenes that people just didn’t see. ... He didn’t ask for financial support, he just did it because it was the right thing to do.”
After becoming assistant varsity coach at St. Joe’s in 2012, he was stricken with an infection which caused him nearly to collapse during a tournament game in Jamestown. Hospitalized, he then was diagnosed with a neurological disorder that affected his hands and feet.
“Regardless of his health and physical handicaps, everything was beautiful,” his brother noted. “He never had a bad day. He was always there with a big smile.”
Unable to carry on as a coach, he was a teacher aide, an aide to the assistant varsity coach and weight room monitor, continuing to work until April. He also assisted with summer leagues.
“I can honestly say I never met a better person,” said former St. Joe’s athletic director Pete Schneider, now executive director of the Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association. “He had a huge heart. Any athlete who wanted to work, he’d work with them. He’d come in at strange hours to work with them. He wouldn’t tire out. Kids would come home from college and he’d call to open up the gym for them at 8 p.m. Everything he did, he did for the kids. That’s the kind of guy he was.”
Among the tributes pouring in was one from Christian "Cricket" Barthol. A captain of Hawks basketball teams in the 1980s who is now living in Texas, he asked a local florist to create a floral arrangement in the shape of a basketball for Mr. Dyrek's funeral.
"He told me that when he was 15, he lost his mother and Coach Dyrek not only taught him basketball, but how to be a gentleman," said the florist, who asked not to be identified. "This guy was more than a coach to him."
Survivors include two other brothers, Michael and Kevin; and nieces and nephews.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Delaware Avenue at Victoria Boulevard, Kenmore.