BASKETBALL COACH, SWIMMING INSTRUCTOR
Denis was born in Stockton in 1939. He started coaching at Stagg High School as JV baseball and JV football coach from 1959-1961. In 1961 he became Varsity Assistant Basketball and JV coach at Stockton College. In 1963 he moved to San Joaquin Delta College as an assistant basketball coach and JV coach.
After graduation from Pacific, Denis began teaching and coaching baseball at Hamilton Junior High from 1964-66. During this time he also became one of the youngest and most respected head coaches as the Head Freshman Basketball Coach at Pacific at age 24. He assisted the Pacific head coach, Dick Edwards, at the varsity level from 1963-71. Coach Edwards, with Denis as an assistant, went to the final eight once as a team during the UCLA-dominated era. During this golden era of basketball for Pacific, Denis developed lifelong friendships with players such as Keith Swagerty, John Gianelli, Pat Foley, Jim McCargo, Robby DeWitt, Bill Stricker, Tom Jones, Bob Thomason, John Errecart, and many others.
In 1972 he was the Head Coach of McDonald’s Basketball Team of the Western Basketball Association.
From 1982-88, Denis was on the University of the Pacific basketball coaching staff as an assistant to the head coach. In 1987-88, he was the acting head coach of the Pacific basketball for the last 11 games after the head coach was let go in the middle of the season.
Denis was a pioneer in what we know today as the sports camp industry. In 1964-66 he was co-director with Duane Isetti of the inaugural Valley Sports Camp and the Valley Soccer Camp. From 1972-2014 he was the director of the summertime Dick Edwards Basketball Camp for Boys. This camp was one of the first overnight sports camps where the campers learned about basketball as well as life on and off the court. Through the years, approximately 8,000 campers attended, primarily from Stockton and San Joaquin County. Some attendees from the local area included Scott Brooks (East Union, Texas Christian, SJ Delta College, UC Irvine, followed by 10 years of NBA as a player and 18 years of NBA coaching); Ray Harris (Edison High player and coach); Bob Hoyt (Columbia JC coach); and Scott Thomason (Turlock HS, Pacific and coach at Sierra High School in Manteca), among many others.
Denis also was one of the first in the country to create a basketball camp for girls. In 1978 he understood the importance of providing opportunities for girls to play basketball and further advance their skills in a summer camp environment. The Nor Cal Basketball Camp for Girls lasted for 37 years.
From 1963-2018 Denis taught water safety and gave private swimming lessons to youngsters ages three through eleven in private pools. The number of students he has taught to swim approximates 7,000 local youth.
In the early 1980’s through 2014, Denis was also on the high school boys and girls high school basketball seeding committee for the Sac-Joaquin Section.
He is married to Joyce and they have two children.