OCEAN PARK - Elmo Wise is extremely happy to be living at the beach and to be coaching basketball. Wise was recently hired to be junior varsity girls hoops coach at Ilwaco High School.
Wise has taken a circuitous route to Ocean Park, where he and wife Roberta reside, and his coaching career has taken many turns as well.
Elmo graduated from Castle Rock High School in 1960 and worked there as county road superintendent until 1980 when his eldest son was about to enter high school.
"We weren't happy with the discipline at Castle Rock. Whenever we went to the school there were about 300 kids just milling around in the halls," Wise said. He took his family to Cashmere after visiting four high schools around the state. "We were impressed with their school system," he said of his move to Central Washington.
The Wises opened a pizza parlor there and did well. After expanding his ventures to a gasoline station a few years later, financial woes began to occur when a dishonest supplier cost the couple dearly, eventually precipitating a move to the Peninsula in 2001.
"We owned a lot here with a trailer and visited four or five times a year," Wise explained. "We decided it just made sense to move to Ocean Park."
In the meantime Elmo coached basketball. He had also earned letters in baseball, football, and track at Castle Rock, but his first love had always been basketball. Beginning in 1968, Wise coached summer basketball at Castle Rock. He continued for 13 years, eventually working with his sons in the program. Wise's first paid coaching opportunity was as JV coach at his alma mater in 1975.
After the move to Cashmere, Elmo quickly became involved with AAU basketball and with Cashmere's legendary coach Bill Kelly. In 1982 Wise led his team to the national tournament in Memphis, and he again won the regional tournament in Yakima in 1983. This time his squad played well enough at Notre Dame University to receive recognition in their sports magazine.
In 1987 Wise moved from coaching boys AAU basketball to girls. He worked with his daughter's teams for five years. When a varsity coaching position came open in White Pass in 1992-93 Wise jumped at the chance, but was replaced one year later by a full-time teacher.
He took his courtside talents to Rainier, Ore., and coached there for two seasons before returning to Cashmere to salvage his business ventures.
Upon moving to the beach Elmo refereed high school basketball two years and then was hired last basketball season as JV coach at South Bend.
"My philosophy is that you have to dribble with both hands, keep your head up, and see the open man or you can't be a team basketball player," he stated. "Bill Kelly taught me to have kids block out, play defense, and learn the fundamentals."
Wise added, "There is no magic offense. With the kind of work I did, I was able to watch many coaches during their practices and all the good ones taught fundamentals very well."
Wise is currently employed at Surfside Golf Course as a handy- man, and he has a Hawaiian shaved ice business in Seaside. Roberta has a house cleaning business in Ocean Park.
"I feel like I'm still a kid at heart. I want to coach for another 10 or 15 years. I take life and teaching basketball day by day," Wise said. "To me the cup is always full," he concluded.
To prove his point, Elmo Wise then sank a nifty reverse-layup on the Nerf hoop he put up at the golf course clubhouse.