DALLAS -- With his infectious enthusiasm for the game of basketball, most say first-year Dallas High boys
coach Jim Boutin -- at the prime age of 69 -- hasn't lost a step.
Boutin might argue with you on that one.
"Fourteen years ago, I had my first hip replacement, and six years ago I had my other hip replacement, and the doctor said, 'Now Jim, you're not going to be able to run or jump,' and I said, 'I never could! So there's no change in my body,'" Boutin recalled with a laugh just prior to leading his Class 5A Dragons to another big win against a 6A school -- this time a 58-54 decision over Beaverton for third place Wednesday in the final day of the South Salem Winter Classic.
Athleticism aside, Boutin's coaching abilities cannot be questioned.
After taking a nine-year
break from a 35-year college coaching career, the NAIA-Hall of Famer -- he was a heck of a player in his own right -- decided to return to the hardwood as a high school head coach, something he hadn't done in 40 years.
"I'm still a competitive person," Boutin said. "I just made the decision because I'm healthy, energetic, and I've been involved in basketball all over the world and locally, so I did it."
That competitive spirit has already infused a surprising 5-3 start for a Dallas squad that won only 10 games a year ago.
And the Dragons aren't just beating up on anybody -- four of their wins have come against 6A opponents: Beaverton, Newberg, McNary and McKay.
"He brings an excitement and just, like, an aura around himself and it kind of spreads around to everyone -- it's infectious, almost," senior Brady McKinley said of Boutin.
"I think we're finally starting to believe in ourselves that we can be good. And with the addition of a really good coach, we're starting to believe in ourselves that we can beat good teams.
"He tells us we can be good, and just with his track record of being successful in the past, that makes us feel good about ourselves."
Success follows Boutin
Before his highly successful coaching career took off, Boutin did his own damage as a player for Lewis & Clark College in Portland, where he was a four-year starter (1961-64) and an All-American NAIA player, averaging 30.2 points and 14.8 rebounds as a senior.
His 2,218 career points (20.8 average) still stands as the school's all-time best, and he's No. 2 in career rebounds (1,398).
Boutin has coached at all levels -- from a 39-12 stint with Portland's Washington High School (now defunct) in 1965-67, to college coaching stops at Willamette University (194-130), Western Oregon University (142-43), Idaho State (45-41) and Lane Community College (240-102), where he spent 12 seasons before retiring in 2003.
His son, James, a 6-foot-7 forward that won a high school player of the year award in Idaho, helped him lead the Titans to a Northwest Athletic Association of Community College title in his first season.
Boutin still stands as the third-most winningest coach in Oregon collegiate basketball history with a 638-355 record.
Dallas girls coach Dave Brautigam, a former player of Boutin's at both Lane and later Western Oregon, was one of the advocates to bring Boutin to Dallas High.
Photo by Nicole Watkins
Dallas High coach Jim Boutin talks to his team during a timeout Wednesday in the game against Beaverton.
Brautigam said he didn't have to do much convincing.
"If you know anything about Coach Boutin, he loves basketball," Brautigam said.
"I knew he was going to take the job even if the kids didn't know how to play basketball. I don't think he could stay away from it."
Boutin hasn't been just sitting at home, though.
He's spent the last 10 years traveling -- Croatia, France, Australia and China, to name a few -- to do coaching clinics while running local camps and helping out other programs.
But the coaching bug remained.
"I missed it -- what I missed were the relationships with the kids, developing some camaraderie with them and teaching them the things I know," Boutin, who recently celebrated his 47th wedding anniversary with his wife, Jan, admitted.
"That's been fun, and they've been really receptive. We've done really well, and I've been really proud of the kids."
His personable nature has certainly been welcomed.
"He's relational -- he cares about us and it's easy to tell that, so definitely it's something we're thankful about him for," Dallas senior Landon Hattan said.
"He's very competitive, and so he really gets into it when we're not reaching the potential he wants to see."
So far, the Dragons have done the job.
"They've been very interested and they're very motivated and they listen to me, you know," Boutin said. "I don't have all the answers, but I just have some things that I have done that have been successful, and we try to go back to it.
"The last five games, this has been unbelievable."
THE JIM BOUTIN FILE
Who: Jim Boutin
All-time coaching record (35 seasons): 638-357
Head coaching stops: Willamette University (1967-79), Western Oregon University (1979-85), Idaho State (1985-91) and Lane Community College (1991-2003).
Alma mater: Lewis & Clark College in Portland, where he still holds the all-time scoring record (2,218) in a glittering four-year career (1961-64) where he was named an NAIA First Team All-American his junior and senior seasons.
Prep coaching career: Boutin has been the head coach at just one other high school prior to Dallas -- at the now defunct Washington High School in Portland, where he spent two seasons (39-12). That was from 1965-67.