Well-known central Pennsylvania high school basketball coach dies at age 61

The (Carlisle) Sentinel (TNS)
  • Boiling Springs boys' basketball coach Pat Dieter has died at age 61.
  • Dieter coached the Bubblers for more than 35 years.
  • Dieter compiled a record of 477-390 with Boiling Springs.

Boiling Springs boys' basketball head coach Pat Dieter has died.

A local institution in Cumberland County, Dieter coached the Bubblers for more than 35 years. He was 61 years old.

He was hospitalized late last week and was scheduled for surgery Monday afternoon, his coaching staff said, hours before the Bubblers were to face Octorara in the District 3 Class 4A first round. They lost 76-60 on the road.

An email from Donnie Eppley, a local basketball official, was circulated to area coaches late Monday night stating that Dieter died. A member of the coaching staff confirmed the news to The Sentinel shortly after.

“It is with great sadness that I must report to you the passing of Pat Dieter,” the email said. “Pat was a great man, friend, and father and will be greatly missed by everyone.”

Dieter is survived by his wife, Jen, and two kids, Mamie and Austin.

Dieter coached the Bubblers for 36 years, going 477-390. He served two stints as the athletic director as well, retiring from that role in February, 2018. He was the longest-tenured active head coach in Cumberland County before his death.

Under Dieter, the Bubblers made one District 3 championship, in Class A in 1986. They lost to Upper Dauphin 72-54 that year. Boiling Springs does not have a district title, according to District 3's records online.

Dieter underwent a heart bypass surgery in 2015, PennLive reported. He had other procedures over the years, including other surgeries on his heart and kidneys, he told The Sentinel in April 2018. He dropped a noticeable amount of weight before the 2017-18 season, but said shortly before the year began that he was feeling much better.

The South Middleton School Board held a moment of silence prior to its meeting Tuesday in honor of Dieter. Superintendent Matthew Strine then read the following statement:

“With a heavy heart, I am here to inform you of the passing of Mr. Pat Dieter. Mr. Dieter served the students of South Middleton School District for more than 30 years as a teacher, department chair, athletic director and coach. His love for the community and the students who filtered through his AP government classroom and our athletic fields was certainly clear from the moment that you met him. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his wife, two children and all his friends at this time."

Monday was not the first time he had not been on the sidelines with a towel in his hand, stalking the bench and shouting commands to his players. But there was hope he would make a recovery, even if it meant not coaching again until next season.

Dieter spoke to The Sentinel in April 2018, shortly after retiring as AD. He said coaching for 40 years “sounds pretty cool.” He never intended, when he began in Bubbletown, to stay this long.

“I tell everyone, when I came to Boiling Springs it was a stepping stone,” Dieter said back in April, laughing. “And unfortunately I slipped on a wet stone.”

He coached fathers and sons, and several of his former players went on to coach under him, including Joel Martin, who replaced Dieter on the sidelines in Monday’s loss.

Dieter was AD from 1990 to 1999 and again from 2012 to 18. He was replaced a few months after this latest stint by Karl Heimbach, another longtime AD at various schools.

He also taught for most of the past 38 years, including history, government, social studies and economics.

He was fondly remembered on social media.