By Chris Brooklier
Growing up, Ron Lampe had a lot of freedom. He did what he pleased, when he pleased, how he pleased. Often Lampe would get out of school and not come home until it was time to go to bed. No one checked on his grades or looked over him. Lampe’s life lacked structure, as no one was pushing him or driving him to do anything with his life.
Doug Orton, former basketball coach at Creswell High School, significantly influenced Lampe’s life. Orton became a father figure for Lampe after coaching him for 2 years. Lampe and Orton went to church together. When Lampe got married at 19 to his high school sweetheart, his parents weren’t there. But Orton was.
Lampe, now 50, is the head basketball coach and P.E. teacher at Sheldon High School. After the influence Orton had on Lampe, Lampe knew he wanted to giveback to his community like his coach did.
Giving back was important to Lampe after struggling to find a sense of community with his family growing up. Lampe’s family immigrated from Amsterdam to Canada. Shortly after being born in Canada Lampe moved around the U.S. to San Diego, Calif., and the Eugene area. When Lampe moved with his family to Oregon in sixth grade, the things were not right in the Lampe household.
“My dad was just gone a lot. He would work out of state and be gone for months at a time. I didn’t see much of him.” Lampe says. “And then my mom may or may not have been home so it just wasn’t a good environment to come home to.”
During Lampe’s senior year of high school, Lampe’s two brothers all went to different high schools in the greater Eugene area. During his junior and senior years, Lampe lived with one of his friends; A middle child displaced from his parents.
Sports was always the calming force in Lampe’s life, The ever present activity Lampe could go to whenever he needed. Lampe was a three sport athlete going through school but basketball was always his biggest love.
“Basketball to me is kind of what saved me.” Lampe says. “I knew the only way I was gonna get through school and to pay for school was to get a full ride scholarship so that motivated me to continue to work on my game. ” Lampe says, leaning back with a barely noticeable grin on his face, almost hidden under his light brown goatee.
At around 6’0 tall with broad, burly shoulders, Lampe is an imposing figure. And despite bags under his eyes and glimpses of grey hair above his ears, there is a fire in his eyes when he speaks.
Using his self instilled drive to succeed, Lampe worked hard enough to be an all-state performer in basketball and decided to accept a full scholarship to Western Oregon University. Western was a good fit because it was a good basketball school, finishing 30-3 his first year, and it was a teacher school.
For Lampe he knew to stay in basketball he would have to teach and coach, and he relished the opportunity. However, things didn’t work out well for Lampe at Western. He ended up transferring to the University of Oregon, where he graduated with a degree in physical education.
Three years after graduating, at the ripe age of 24, Lampe was the head coach of his alma mater, Creswell. Five years later, in 1991, Lampe won his first state championship.
Lampe’s coaching style is very hands on. When he holds time for weight training, he works out with his players. He engages them, readjusting weights when they are off and giving instruction when necessary. Lampe’s style when talking to his kids is also hands on, and Lampe is very involved in their lives.
“When they have problems, we just pull them in. The best thing we do with our kids, we talk to our kids everyday.” Lampe says “We’ll pull them in here, we’ll shut the door and be very honest with them. I just think they appreciate that.”
Logan Davis, a junior wing for Sheldon feels Lampe has been a valuable person in his life.
“He’s always been there to help me if I ever needed anything from him.” Davis says. “He always tells me if I ever need a ride or anything I can just call him.”
Now in his 7th year as the head coach of Sheldon High School, Lampe has built the Irish into a perennial winning program.
When Lampe entered Sheldon they were on their 4th coach in 5 years. In fact, Lampe took over at Sheldon for his own high school coach and mentor, Doug Orton, who went on to Springfield High to be an assistant coach for his son Erik Orton. In his first year at Sheldon, Lampe boosted Sheldon to a top 3 finish in state, the 2nd highest finish in school history. But for Lampe, it’s about much more than just wins and losses. Lampe believes he’s improving his players lives, teaching them lessons that will last them their whole lives.
“We’re getting them ready for the real world. You can depend on them, they show up on time they work hard. They’ve had to work together with other kids and be successful with that. Those are all qualities that people want in the workforce.”