Longtime coach set to retire from Pacelli

Published 8:30 pm Thursday, March 18, 2010

After being associated with the Pacelli and Lyle/Pacelli boys basketball team for the past 22 years, Gary Erlandson is finally walking away.


Erlandson, who was the head basketball coach from 1988 to 2002 and the assistant coach from 2007- 2010 is retiring from the Pacelli school district after this school year.

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Lyle/Pacelli head basketball coach Reid Olson has invited Erlandson back to help out next year if he likes, whether it be as an assistant or part-time adviser.

“The door is still open if he wants to come back and help out,” Olson said. “He’ll forget more about basketball than I’ve ever known. He’s right on top of everything as far as Xs and Os go. He’s very detail orientated.”

Erlandson hasn’t made up his mind if he’ll be back, but he has built up some strong memories over the years. He guided the Shamrocks to a Class ‘A’ state title in 1992.

“A group of kids let me go up and watch them at the state tournament and we were fortunate enough to win it. That was a great memory,” Erlandson said. “It was nice to see the camaraderie of the school and the community at state that year.”

Erlandson came to Pacelli as an English teacher in 1966 and he wasn’t sure of how long he’d stay. As time passed on, he found his place.

“Me and my wife always joked we’d be here for three or five years and that got away from us, which was good,” he said. “It’s just been a great fit for me. The kids, teachers and administrators have been good to me.”

As a basketball coach, Erlandson always preaches a strong defense and an opportunistic offense that took advantage of a basic set. He also liked teaching kids how to learn the game.

“A lot of kids came in here and all they knew about basketball is what they’ve seen on T.V. Soon they would realize there’s a lot more to it than what they had seen on T.V.” he said. “I’ll always miss working with the kids. That was the best part.”

Olson credits Erlandson with inspiring him to move up as a basketball coach. When he was coaching junior high basketball, Olson was content to stay at that level until Erlandson talked him into moving up the ranks.

“I started enjoying it more and more and I’m glad he came up to me,” Olson said.

Erlandson missed part of the past season with health issues, but he gave the team a boost when he returned to the bench for the postseason, which saw Lyle/Pacelli advance to the subsection title game, where it lost to Goodhue.

While he’s not sure if he’ll be with the basketball team next season, Erlandson will be staying in Austin.

“Right now the plan is to stay in Austin until there’s a reason not to do it,” he said.

While at Pacelli, Erlandson has advised classes, coordinated the Talisman yearbook, helped on the Pacelli Booster Club, volunteered for many more projects and activities, and has coached softball.