The first time I met Dennis Arnold he was the head boys basketball coach at Philipsburg-Osceola. I was just out of high school, but dating one of his basketball players.
We reconnected again a few years later when I started here at The Progress. We always used to joke that our friendship lasted longer than my relationship.
On Tuesday morning when I got the call that he had passed away, I was shocked. We had just seen each other a few weeks before when he was out doing errands for his job at the Clearfield County Probation department, just a few buildings down from The Progress.
We talked for a good 20 minutes about sports, our families and everything else in between.
Denny was one of the good ones. People use that term all the time, but Denny was truly a good one. He could relate to kids like very few coaches I’ve ever seen.
Everyone loved him. Whether it was as the assistant girls basketball coach at P-O under Doug Myers or as an assistant softball coach at WB with Bill Myers, Denny always got to play the good cop role.
Denny was also great at being a head coach. He was always so fun to watch from the sidelines.
He was good at giving his players a kick in the pants when they needed it, but in the nicest way possible.
He loved coaching, but not as much as he loved his family. His wife Paula, his son Christian and his daughter Amanda always came first. Then once Amanda blessed him with grandkids, it was like his heart grew two sizes.
Denny worked in The Progress sports department as our fourth sports writer several years ago. We spent many late nights talking about sports and about his family.
I always told him, ‘when I grow up, I hope my husband loves me as much as you love your wife.’
He’d always laugh. But I meant every word of it.
Once he left The Progress to take a job at the Clearfield County Probation Department, we’d still text often, especially during softball season.
Last season, Denny took over the head softball job at West Branch. The girls had talked him into it he always said. But, he was at home on the softball field. Just like he was on the basketball court.
I could count on getting a text after every game. Usually more than one. And then sometimes a phone call.
Denny was always meticulous about stats. But then again his background was in accounting.
If he had a scoring question, he’d always text me to ask me what I thought. If it was complicated, he’d call me and walk me through the inning.
We’d usually spend 25 minutes talking about how to score things before he’d ask how our other area teams did.
I don’t usually cover a lot of softball, but last year I had the pleasure of covering several games. I’m glad I got to spend that time with Denny.
He was one of those people who were meant to coach. And he was damn good at it too.
Denny was a good one. And I’ll miss him immensely.