Gielczyk: Ginsberg Retires After 40-Year Career

Dave Ginsberg, who was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in 2016, isn’t closing the door on the possibility of coaching again some time down the road. Even though he is 71 and has been coaching for 40 years.

But he won’t be coming back to Northport after just one season as the boys basketball team’s head coach.

In a career that spread over six decades and nine different schools, including a 16-year stint as an assistant at Central Michigan, Ginsberg could have just had his final stop, though.

If it is, he has no regrets.

“I have nothing but good memories,” said Ginsberg. “I was 22 in 1968, got a good job at Leslie, a Class C school between Lansing and Jackson, and coached a ninth grade team and I was happy as a lark.

“The next year, I met the head coach at Battle Creek Central, a Hall of Famer now, Chuck Turner, who has passed away. He liked me and he brought me to Battle Creek Central to be his junior varsity coach, which was a tremendous opportunity for me because it was in a fantastic league.”

A big Class A school, Battle Creek Central was in a league that included Ypsilanti, Lansing Eastern, Kalamazoo Central, Lansing Sexton and Jackson. Ginsberg spent three years at Battle Creek Central.

He was still pretty young when he landed a coaching gig at Grand Rapids Union, and while he candidly admits that those teams did “okay” while he was there, it wasn’t quite the success he had hoped for, which was a little disappointing.

After three years at Grand Rapids Union, he was approached by CMU to join the Chippewas’ coaching staff. The head coach at the time, Dick Parfitt, had been an assistant when Ginsberg was a student.

It was a no-brainer for Ginsberg, and he would spend the next 16 years at the Mt. Pleasant college, 10 with Parfitt and six with Charlie Cole.

“Now, we’re at 23 years (coaching),” said Ginsberg. “I had great experiences at Central Michigan. I was able to recruit, and go around the country. I rubbed shoulders with some fantastic coaches … (Michigan State coaches) Jud Heathcote and Tom Izzo, in addition to the coaches at CMU who helped me so much.

“Then I took a few years off, and got in the jewelry business. I got a job teaching in the Flint community schools, and was there for 12 years. I took the job just as a teacher. Had no plans to coach. Just was grateful to have a job in the public school system.”

But it wasn’t long before he was coaching again, this time at Flint Central, taking it over from Stan Gooch, who had won the state title three times in the 1980s, and was later inducted into the Hall of Fame.

He became assistant principal at Flint Central while was the coach, before giving up coaching to take the principal’s job at Flint Southwestern, a position he held for a few years until he retired in 2005 and moved just southwest of Traverse City.

“I thought I’d just drift off into the sunset,” Ginsberg said. “But, I had some opportunities. Those two years at St. Francis, which were two fantastic years. I had the opportunity to coach some wonderful athletes … Holden Greiner, the Bullough brothers (Max and Riley), the Sheldon brothers. Just some tremendous talent.”

After two years at St. Francis, Ginsberg went on to coach the girls’ basketball team at Traverse City West and had three good seasons, the best coming in his third year, after which he retired again. It didn’t last long.

Northport would be the next stop for Ginsberg last year, even though it meant a 70-mile round trip every day for practices and games with the Wildcats.

“I had plans of being there two years, but I just didn’t feel it was going the way it should, for all parties concerned,” said Ginsberg. “Even though we did pretty well. So, I decided to just call it at the end of the year, even though the entire team is back.

“They’re going to have a good team, a good season. But, I thought, ‘Nah. I just don’t need another good season.’ I’ve got 40 great years of wonderful experiences and opportunities. Let them just have their fun, and I’ll go out camping in the woods, or something.

“Along the way, coaching five guys that played in the NBA, including the great Dan Majerle from here, and then to come up here and get ahold of guys like Max Bullough, Holden Greiner and Shawn Sheldon.

“I mean, just really a magical journey for me. I hope it was for the teams I coached. If you coach long enough, and you do the best you can, you’re going to be the right coach for a lot players, and you’re going to be the wrong coach for a lot of players. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Having the opportunity to have an effect on a young person’s life was one of the things that drew Ginsberg into coaching, and brought him the most rewards.

Ginsberg doesn’t have any plans to coach again.

But, if the right opportunity were to come along, with the right circumstances, he admits he’d have to give it serious consideration.

As he says, he wouldn’t mind being somebody’s hired gun.

Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. 

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