Head Coach: Che Dawson (15 Seasons) 251-180  (Overall) / 148-86  (West Division)

  • Assistant Coach: Clarence Ryan
  • Assistant Coach: Dave Denny
  • Assistant Coach: Nathan TeGrootenhuis
  • Assistant Coach: David Choi
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach: Taylor Chisholm
  • Athletics Director: John Dunn

Highline College has a history of hiring quality Men’s Basketball coaches, both head and assistant. Our coaches are committed to your development as a person and as a student. Our coaches are also committed to maximizing the potential of Highline players on the court and doing everything possible to help Thunderbirds move on to the next level. Our coaching staff is led by Che Dawson, with assistant coaches Dave Denny, Clarence Ryan, Nathan TeGrootenhuis and David Choi.


Men's Basketball Coach Che Dawson

Che Dawson – Men’s Head Basketball Coach

Bachelor of Arts, Criminal Justice/Political Science
Seattle University (1993)
Juris Doctor  University of Washington (1997)

Ché Dawson became the new Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Highline College on April 25, 2003 after eight seasons in the high school ranks. Since coming to Highline, Dawson’s teams are 270-190 overall and 156-92 in the tough West Division. In sixteen years at the helm, Highline has won three Division championships and one NWAC championship. Highline has been to the Final Four three times and the Elite Eight seven times. His staff has been named the Coaching Staff of the Year (2008-2009) and the NWAC Coaching Staff of the Year (2005-2006).

The 2005-2006 season culminated in a run to the NWAC Championship. “What a special group of young men it was” stated Coach Dawson. “We had sophomores who bought into the necessary commitment, leadership and selflessness to have a winning team and the freshman made the same level of sacrifice for us to be collectively successful.” Dawson thought the keys to the Championship team’s success were its depth, balance and versatility. “The most telling statistic from the NWAC tournament was the fact that we won the tournament without one player in the top 20 in scoring for the tournament. When young men buy into that kind of unselfishness, incredible things happen.”  Read the complete entry for Coach Dawson

Assistant Coach Dave Denny

Dave Denny – Assistant Coach

Bachelor of Arts, Education Western Washington University (1969)


Coach Denny came to Highline in 2003 after 30 years of coaching in the high school ranks. He has compiled an overall 396-212 record. He is a native of Port Angeles, Washington. After graduating from Port Angeles High School he attended Peninsula College and Western Washington University.

Coach Denny began his coaching career at Montesano High School, where he coached Boys Basketball and Cross Country. His 1974 Cross Country team won Montesano High School’s first state title in any sport.

Coach Denny then became the Head Boys Basketball coach at Mark Morris High School in Longview, Washington. In his 16 years at Mark Morris, he led the Monarchs to four state title games. The Monarch’s won the State Championship in 1978, 1985 and 1987 and placed 2nd in the 1986 State Tournament. Coach Denny has also been named by his colleagues as the Washington State Coach of the Year in three separate seasons.

Coach Denny finished his coaching career at Auburn High School. The Trojans qualified for the state tournament three times during his tenure at Auburn. His 1997 team finished 16-0 in league play.

Coach Denny also coached with the Friends of Hoop select program in 1999 and 2000 featuring former Washington prep standouts Brian Morrison, Michael Fey, Alvin Snow, Curtis Allen, Erroll Knight, Marc Axton, Aaron Brooks, Eddie Lincoln, CJ Massingale, Ryan Appleby and others. Coach Denny lives in Auburn with his wife of 50 years, Sherry. He has had the opportunity to coach both of his sons, Jeff and Chris during his highly successful years at Mark Morris.

“We are very fortunate to have Coach Denny’s experience in our program. He is a tremendous coach with whom I have worked in the past. His vast knowledge of the game and level of concern for his players as people are tremendous assets to the Highline College men’s program.” – Coach Dawson

Assistant Coach Clarence Ryan

Clarence Ryan – Assistant Coach

Bachelor of Arts, Sociology/History  Texas Southern University (1973)

Coach Ryan joined the Highline staff for the 2004-05 season after twelve years of coaching in the U.S. Air Force and ten years in the high school ranks. He hails from Laurel, Maryland. Coach Ryan graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in San Antonio, Texas in 1968. He then graduated from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas in 1972. That same year, he joined the U.S. Air Force as an enlisted airman. He served in the U.S.Air Force until 1993 when he retired as an Officer with the rank of Captain.

Coach Ryan’s coaching career began in 1982 while stationed at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. While in the Air Force he netted over 300 wins in 11 years and was 9-0 when he was deployed to defend the country during Desert Shield/Storm in Saudi Arabia in 1990-91.

During his coaching career, Coach Ryan won over 20 tournaments, including two Major Command Championships. His teams were two time Command runners-up and finished third twice in Command play. As a result of Coach Ryan’s success, he was asked to coach the U.S. Armed Forces basketball team and the All-Air Force basketball team for 5 years. He was the recipient of one Gold Medal and three Silver medals.

Coach Ryan began coaching at Kentridge High School in Kent, Washington in the late 1990s where he was instrumental in his team returning to the State Tournament in 1999. The team also made the District Tournament from 1998-2000. Coach Ryan coached with Coach Dave Denny in the summer of 2000 when they led the Friends of Hoop Select Team to a Division A Championship at the Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas with future McDonald’s All-American/Houston Rocket Aaron Brooks at the point guard position.
As a retired Air Force Officer, Coach Ryan has been instrumental in placing four of his high school players at the U.S. Air Force Academy where they became officers.

Coach Ryan lives in Seattle with his wife, Lois, who has been instrumental in his coaching success.

Coach Ryan was a Federal Investigator with the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Seattle, Washington until October of 2006 when he retired from the federal government.

Coach Ryan’s philosophy has always been to give back to society what he has been fortunate enough to obtain.

“We are very fortunate to have Coach Ryan’s experience in our program. His worldly experience and coaching success in both the military and high school setting offer a unique perspective to our players. He has a unique ability to get players to play harder than they thought they could.” – Coach Dawson

Nathan TeGrootenhuis Assistant Coach

Coach TeGrootenhuis joined the Highline Men’s Basketball Program for the 2019-2020 season. His responsibilities include evaluating prospects, recruiting and writing scouting reports. He comes to Highline after having coached the Post Falls Rebels AAU team while coaching for NBC camps where he was in charge of helping run summer camps.

Coach TeGrootenhuis previously played two years of college basketball at Crown College and UW-Fox Valley before transferring to Grand Canyon University, where he received his Bachelors in Sports Management with a minor in Marketing in 2016. This was followed by a Masters in Sports and Athletic Administration from Gonzaga University in 2019.  Originally from Winneconne, WI, he and his wife Casey currently live in Edgewood, WA.

David Choi Assistant Coach

David Choi joined the Thunderbirds in the spring of 2020. His impact was felt immediately as he helped secure commitments from the 2020 recruiting class.
Prior to Highline, Choi spent twelve years at the high school level, serving as head coach at Lakewood High School, Decatur High School (2015 SPSL Coach of the Year), and most recently, The Northwest School. He also has experience at the grassroots level, as founder/Head Coach of the 15U-17U Northwest Greyhounds AAU program (2012-2016).

Originally from Chicago, Choi is well-acquainted with South King County, having played at Decatur High School in Federal Way. Choi’s Gators played in the 2007 4A WIAA State tournament with a 23-2 record.
He received his Bachelor of Arts, Sociology/Social Studies – Western Washington University (2011) and a Masters in Teaching – Western Washington University (2013).  He is married to Anna, and has one son, Damian.

Taylor Chisholm – Strength and Conditioning Coach