Che Dawson, Founder and President of Hoops4Life

Che Dawson's Bio:

  • Birthdate: April 26, 1970 
  • Birthplace: Portland, Oregon 
  • High School: Sunset HS, 1988 
  • College: Seattle University, 1993 Degree: B.A./Political Science/Criminal Justice 
  • Graduate School: University of Washington School of Law, 1997 Degree: J.D. (Juris Doctor)  

Coaching Experience:

  • 2003-present - Head Men's Coach, Highline College (Des Moines, WA) 
  • 1997-2003 - Head Boys Coach, Chief Sealth High School (Seattle, WA) 
  • 1995-1997 - Assistant Coach, Ingraham High School (Seattle, WA) 
  • 1999-2000 - Friends of Hoop Select

Ché Dawson is the Founder and President of Hoops4Life. He has spent the last 20 years coaching at the high school and college levels. 

Coach Dawson became the Head Men's Basketball Coach at Highline College on April 25, 2003 after eight seasons in the high school ranks. Since coming to Highline, Dawson's teams are 227-148 overall and 135-71 in the tough West Region of the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) and the team has gone to the NWAC tournament nine out of thirteen years, including three Final Four appearances. In thirteen years, Highline has won three West Region championships and one NWAC championship. His staff has been named the West Region Coaching Staff of the Year (2008-2009) and the NWAC Coaching Staff of the Year (2005-2006). 

The 2005-2006 season at Highline culminated in a run to the NWAC Championship. "What a special group of young men it was" states Coach Dawson. "We had sophomores who bought into the necessary commitment, leadership and selflessness to have a winning team and the freshman made the same level of sacrifice for us to be collectively successful." Dawson thought the keys to the Championship team's success were its depth, balance and versatility. "The most telling statistic from the NWAC tournament was the fact that we won the tournament without one player in the top 20 in scoring for the tournament. When young men buy into that kind of unselfishness, incredible things happen." 

Coach Dawson is no stranger to implementing high standards and expectations into his basketball programs. Coach Dawson was the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle from 1997-2003. After Sealth finished 6-11 in its previous campaign, Dawson's team went 15-7 in his first season qualifying for the Sea-King District Tournament. Over the next five seasons, Chief Sealth qualified for the playoffs four times, including two more District Tournament appearances and one State Tournament Appearance in 2000-2001. Chief Sealth had not participated in the State Tournament since winning the State Championship in 1989."[The 2000-2001 season] was a great season that rewarded a lot of hard work by our players, parents, staff and administration" said Dawson.

Most important to Coach Dawson are the values at the foundation of his programs. “When players and coaches respect the game it gives back in two ways: experiences and relationships that extend far beyond the hardwood. I learned a lot about life values as a player and hope that my players take the same lessons away from the game.”

Coach Dawson is also a staunch proponent of basketball being a vehicle for education. While at Sealth, an increasing number of seniors went on to higher education every year. “My first year at Sealth, two of eight seniors went to college. My last year, all six seniors went to 2-year and 4-year schools. We always talked about how the lessons learned in basketball apply to the classroom. You must have an appreciation for the fundamentals, a dedication and consistency in your effort and an ability to deal with adversity.” That academic tradition has continued at Highline. In twelve years at Highline, 39 players have committed to play at 4-year schools and several others have gone to 4 year schools without playing basketball.

Coach Dawson had a very successful high school career at Sunset High School in Portland, Oregon. In two years as a Varsity player, Sunset compiled a 47-4 overall record including two Metro League titles and the 3A State Championship in 1987. He played for legendary Oregon coach Ken Harris who has twice been named the Oregon State Coach of the Year and once the National Coach of the Year. Dawson was a second-team All-Metro selection his senior year. 

After graduating from Sunset in 1988, Dawson moved to Seattle and attended Seattle University. At Seattle University, Dawson was a four year letterman, playing his final season for legendary Garfield High School Coach Al Hairston. “The combination of integrity, discipline and a commitment to excellence that I received from my high school and college coaches transcended the basketball court and influenced me in the classroom,” said Dawson. While at Seattle University, Dawson initially majored in Criminal Justice, making the dean's list on several occasions and earning “outstanding Student-Athlete” awards. After completing his playing career, Dawson decided to attend Seattle University for another year, allowing him to earn a second major in Political Science and to focus his efforts on qualifying for admission to law school.

After graduating from Seattle University in 1993, Dawson worked as a Juvenile Rehabilitation Counselor at Echo Glen Children’s Center, a juvenile correctional facility. After a year away from the classroom, Dawson was one of 170 students accepted into the University of Washington School of Law. He went on to graduate with his law degree in 1997.

During law school, Dawson began his coaching career as an assistant at Ingraham High School to Bill Sauvage, 1996 Metro League Coach of the Year. Dawson knew immediately that he had a passion for coaching. “I was able to combine my love for the game with my love for leading and working with young people.”

After two seasons at Ingraham, Dawson became the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Sealth. He concurrently passed the bar exam and began his legal career with Karr Tuttle Campbell, a downtown Seattle law firm. “I am eternally grateful that my employer allowed me to develop as a coach and to work with young people.” Dawson continues a relationship with the firm in an Of Counsel role and is a tenured faculty member of the Paralegal Department at Highline College.

Dawson and his wife, Kelly, live in West Seattle with their sons Miles and Malik.