If Paul Dosch has kept anything throughout his life, it’s his competitiveness and fight.
As a young basketball player at Barstow (California) Community College, he twice was given the task of guarding Antelope Valley star Isaiah “J.R.” Rider, who was lighting up teams for 33.6 points per game the year before starting his illustrious UNLV career.
“Held him under his average,” Dosch said, proudly. “Both times.”
More recently in 2014, as the girls basketball coach at Boulder City, Dosch led the Eagles to the state final in his first season. The championship dream came up short as his team lost to Lowry at UNR’s Lawlor Events Center.
Dosch has shown the same fiery attitude and unwavering positivity in all of his fights. Even with his latest — and most challenging one — which has taken on a whole new meaning in recent weeks to his players, his family and the city of Boulder City.
Dosch, 44, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer Dec. 5 but is adamant he will remain on the sidelines. The Boulder City 1990 graduate, in his fourth season at the school, says he will continue to coach until “I physically can’t.”
“I plan on being here for a while,” Dosch said. “They’re going to have a stubborn coach, even if I have this oxygen tank that I’m carrying with us. … I can handle this. I can beat this. I truly feel like it’s a winning situation. Only time will tell, but I’m going to give it hell. That’s for sure.”
Dosch has compiled a 59-39 record, including 32-11 in league play, and is looking to lead the Eagles to the playoffs for the third time in four years. Only this time, he travels across town from doctor to doctor and endures the side effects of the cancer.
“He cares so much about this team,” said junior Jerra Hinson, a team captain. “When he’s sitting on the bench and coaching us from the sidelines and giving us his all, it makes me want to work 10 billion times harder.
“When I come out for a timeout and he’s saying, ‘Good job,’ or ‘You could do this better,’ it really makes me appreciate having him here.”
This season, Dosch has coached in 15 of 16 games for Boulder City (6-10). He missed the season opener because he was admitted to the hospital with low oxygen levels despite never smoking a day in his life. He’s taking a Tarceva pill once a day and carrying around an oxygen tank so he can continue coaching the sport he loves — a sport he played recreationally until he was 35.
“Most of the guys I know would’ve taken a leave of absence,” said assistant coach Kirk Estes, who has been on Dosch’s staff all four years. “But he’s powering through it. This is his escape.
“He’s able to get out of the house, and this gives him an hour-and-a-half, two hours of forgetting about that stuff.”
Dosch, who has been on a leave of absence from work at Bellagio, isn’t able to do much. He insists that basketball remains in his daily regimen. Estes said Dosch still talks with him as if they will coach for many more years together.
He isn’t as vocal or expressive as in seasons past, but Dosch still grasps his girls’ attention during every timeout. And more so than in previous years, his teaching extends further than basketball.
“When I was first diagnosed, I think my family had the initial hour of ‘Why me?’” Dosch said. “Everybody kind of gets that self pity. But then it kind of turned into, ‘Why not me? Let’s beat this.’
“I’m hoping it’s something (my players) can keep. When things aren’t going your way, don’t walk away from it. You fight it.”
He hasn’t been fighting alone. On Dec. 14, a bake sale and prize raffle was held during a game against Pahrump Valley. The whiteout game raised $5,000, with all proceeds going to the Dosch family. In warmups, the boys and girls teams wore custom shirts that read “BCHS Eagles No One Fights Alone!”
A YouCaring page also was set up the same day and had raised $7,110 as of Wednesday afternoon.
“He’s strong for his girls, for his coaches, for his family, for everyone,” Boulder City athletic director Alex Moore said. “It’s awesome to see the community support. Everybody is fighting for him and his family. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Dosch said he’s trying to create memories every day and will continue to do the “three things” former college basketball coach Jim Valvano said in his now-famous ESPY speech in 1993.
“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
“That, right there, is what I’m trying to do now,” Dosch said. “I used to kind of do that without the cry part, but now I’m like, ‘Let’s implement all three if I have to.’ Why not?”
Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430. Follow @af_ferguson on Twitter.