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Longtime Federal Way HS coach/teacher, Gary Brines, passes away
By BOB SIMS
For the Mirror
Federal Way High School lost a legend early Sunday morning when longtime boys basketball coach Gary Brines passed away.
Brines, 76, died at 4:15 a.m. in an Everett rehabilitation facility from fluid build-up in the lungs, said his brother, Rob Brines, 67, of Vashon Island on Wednesday evening by phone. Brines, who was suffering from dementia, broke his leg recently and had surgery.
"He wasn't doing well," Rob Brines said. "He got pneumonia; his lungs clogged up. Then his heart stopped."
Coach Brines' teams were disciplined, well-prepared and had respect for the game. They played solid defense, were patient on offense and didn't make many mistakes. Brines demanded it.
"He was a fundamentally sound, Bobby Knight-style coach, very high energy," said Stan Lanier, 53, of Auburn. "He knew what he was doing. He was the best prep basketball coach in Federal Way history."
Lanier, a forward at Federal Way, was a McDonald's All-American alternate and MVP in one of the two 1978 All-State Class AAA games that year.
Brines took over the Federal Way High School basketball program as head coach in 1965 and retired in 1984. During his tenure, his Eagle teams appeared at the state tournament five times. In his 19 years of coaching basketball, which included three at Toppenish High, Brines compiled a 214-167 record.
After retiring in 1984, Brines was elected president and also served as executive director of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association, a non-profit organization that sought to educate and honor coaches; raise funds for athletic scholarships; aid young women's sports programs; and offer legal counsel and liability insurance to coaches.
Rob Brines, who was Gary Brines' assistant basketball coach at Federal Way, had this to say about his brother.
"He was a devoted coach," Rob Brines said, choking up. "We grew up in Centralia and I remember the American Legion team didn't have a coach, so Gary did it, as a senior in high school."
In a 1998 interview, Brines was asked if he missed coaching.
"Yeah, I miss the teaching part of it; I miss being out on the floor at practice time."
He said his 1981 Eagle team led by guard Sylvan Miller was his favorite. "We had a lot of juniors who were just happy to be playing," said Brines, whose team went 14-5 and lost to eventual state runner-up Mercer Island in the district playoffs. "They knew their roles, played deliberate and didn't shoot all the time."
Brines was a 1958 graduate of University of Puget Sound, majoring in English and Physical Education. He played quarterback for UPS for three years, helping direct the Loggers to the Evergreen Conference title and its only undefeated season (7-0-1) in football history in 1956.
"Occasionally, I threw some passes," said Brines in an earlier interview, "you know, high-percentage ones -- flat passes and look-ins. I had great big linemen and quick backs, and I gave them the ball most of the time."
After graduating from UPS, Brines, fittingly, began his coaching career at his alma mater, Centralia High, where he was assistant football and basketball coach. A year later, he was hired as Toppenish High's head basketball and baseball coach. In 1962, he moved on to coach and teach biology and English as well at Federal Way High, where he stayed until retiring. He also served as activities director, vice principal and the district athletic director there.
"There's a pride here at Federal Way in students gone before and ones now," Brines said. "The students have built tremendous tradition in athletics ... I've had an awful lot of fun seeing that. I think a number of them have enjoyed themselves. After all, that's what it's all about anyway, competing and enjoying yourself."
Brines, along with 14 others, was part of the inaugural class of the Federal Way Hall of Fame in 2008. The district established the Hall of Fame to honor those who have made a major impact on the district's athletic programs.
Brines' obituary reads: "Preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Jean Brines, and is survived by his younger brothers Richard and Robert (also teachers and coaches); three daughters, Julie Brines (a UW Department of Sociology professor), Teresa Chance and Lesley Pittman; a son, Gary S. Brines; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A celebration will be held at a later date. Donations in his memory may be made to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) scholarship program (425-687-8585; 866-545-8638, toll free) or the Camp Seymour YMCA (253-884-3392) in Gig Harbor."
Coach Brines' former player Stan Lanier said, "He was a fine example and inspiration to people in the way he lived his life."