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Dave Schlabaugh has coached his son Zach for nearly his entire life, but now the two face off as rivals.
Dave Schlabaugh, a Kalona native and former basketball coach at Mid-Prairie, is in his first year as the head coach for Cornell College and Zach Schlabaugh is a junior at Coe College. The two NCAA Division III schools faced off as rivals last week in Cedar Rapids.
“I was lucky enough to coach him in high school, so I’ve been on that side of it, too,” Schlabaugh said. “It’s definitely a different perspective on the other side of the floor.”
Cornell came away with the win after storming back in the second half to win 84-81, but Zach Schlabaugh scored a career-high 11 points.
Dave Schlabaugh said that once the game started it was like the father-son aspect disappeared and it just became part of the game.
“Once the game’s going on you kind of throw out the father-son relationship and you don’t think too much of it,” Dave Schlabaugh said. When it’s over you appreciate the fact that you have a son like that and the emotions run a little bit more.”
He said after the game meeting with a lot of the family and friends that had come out to see the two face off was his favorite part of the night.
“I thought the best part of the whole night was the amount of friends and family that came out to the game,” Dave Schlabaugh said. “A lot of Mid-Prairie friends came out to see us. He grew up in those gyms and to see them back was really neat.”
The two will now face off just one more time for Zach Schlabaugh’s senior year next year.
That dynamic is something that has Dave Schlabaugh thinking next year’s game will be even more special.
“We’ll get to play against each other one more time, I’m assuming we’ll kind of approach it the same way,” Schlabaugh said. “It’ll be tougher next season because it’ll be his last one.”
Schlabaugh said he thinks Division III athletics is great because it provides unique stories like this.
Schlabaugh is in his first season coaching the Rams after spending a season as an assistant in 2016-2017.
Cornell is off to a 7-4 start this season, including a 2-2 conference record.
“The transition to the head job has gone pretty well,” Dave Schlabaugh said. “We’re trying hard over break to get better and I’m pretty fortunate to get to come into Cornell and coach everyday.”
Coe College has a 5-7 record to start the season with a 1-2 conference record.
Zach Schlabaugh has seen his production and playing time increase quite a bit this season. He’s averaging 11.3 minutes per game and five points per game this year. He’s shooting 49 percent on the season.