La Verne Magazine
Family Man Plants Seeds for Athletics, Spiritual Growth
by Damien Alarcon
photography by Jaime Ortega
Aside from owning his own nursery and volunteering through the city's
Parks and Recreation program, 41-year-old Dave Zylstra finds time to relax
at home and take care of his family. Zylstra has been married for 19 years
and has six children. Although he is busy coaching basketball and baseball,
he says he loves it.
The characteristic his players and their parents like most about Dave
Zylstra is his laid back, mellow style of coaching. He does not yell, scream
or push his players to the extreme. A compulsive obsession to win is not
what drives Zylstra to coach basketball and baseball for 11 years, all while
running a business and taking care of his family.
"At first I was stunned. I was expecting a coach who pushes the
kids with more aggressiveness," said a parent, Harold Ussery. "But
after a while, I saw how the kids had more fun and were learning a lot.
He is a good coach." Ussery's daughter, Devon, 11, was a part of Zylstra's
basketball team through the City of La Verne Parks and Recreation program.
Zylstra, a 41-year-old La Verne resident, says winning is not the most
important thing that keeps him interested in the sports in which he is involved.
What he loves most about coaching is "seeing kids improve and growing
as individuals. Not even so much that they are great players, but just to
see them improve and build their love of the game."
"I can really see that easily in basketball. I get more satisfaction,
even than from winning, to see a little kid develop over the years,"
Aside from dedicating volunteer work through the city's Parks and Recreation
program on a year-round basis, Zylstra also runs his own nursery, West Covina
Nurseries. Do not let the name fool you. The business, which was owned by
his parents, was originally located in West Covina but moved to La Verne
in 1988 after Zylstra purchased the company from them.
Since then, Zylstra has built two other yards in La Verne. His brother,
Doug, runs his own yard in Santa Barbara, while his sister, Diane, owns
one in Arroyo Grande, near San Luis Obispo. All nurseries are under the
same name. "We all work under a partnership," explains Zylstra.
Carrying a major duty of running a successful company, Zylstra says
his enjoyment of coaching has placed another priority in his life. He has
been coaching sports -- whether it be baseball, basketball or even soccer
-- for 11 years. He gained this desire to help children grow and progress
in sports while growing up. Throughout his younger years living in Glendora,
Zylstra was involved in a plethora of sports including basketball, baseball,
track and tennis. Throughout his years at Edgewood High School in Covina,
Zylstra began to focus more on his two favorite sports, baseball and basketball.
"Adults took an interest in me growing up in different sports,
and I would just like to try to give back for what they did for me,"
After high school, he attended the University of Redlands and graduated
with a bachelor's degree in business in 1980. At Redlands, he played two
years of basketball. Studying abroad was Zylstra's most memorable college
experience, where he traveled through 12 different countries across Europe
including Austria, Germany, Greece and Switzerland.
A couple of years after graduation, Zylstra married his longtime companion,
Maxine Monahan, when he was 22 years old. Maxine knew Dave since she was
8, when he was the best friend of her brother, Kevin. They are parents of
six children: Ryan, 16; Whitney, 14; Brock, 12; Tanner, 9; Madison, 6 and
Dave and Maxine do not push sports upon their children, however. Zylstra
learned from his first son, Ryan, that parents should not do that.
"With your first son you really try to get him into everything
and you go overboard. Fortunately, [Ryan] found his niche, and he loves
golf. I think all my kids have either found or will find their niche in
what they like," he says. Ryan is a junior at Bonita High School and
is a member of the golf team.
"Dave is a very committed and loving man," Maxine says. "He
wants everyone to succeed, but not just that. He is concerned about the
welfare of the kids he coaches and always asks them how are things going
in their lives."
Maxine supports Zylstra's teams with regular game attendance and, more
often than not, serves as a "team mom," serving treats, typing
schedules and making the banner for each team. Dave credits Maxine, for
her help and support.
"What makes things work is that I enjoy sports. If I didn't, things
would be a lot harder," she says. "We enjoy what we are doing
as long as [our children] are making the grades."
"My wife has been real supportive in my life and does a lot of
the running around and should not get cut out of the limelight. She allows
me to go on doing what I am doing. She works a little at the nursery, but
mainly stays home and is a house mom," Zylstra says.
Zylstra and his family are also very much involved with the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He heads the young men's program of the
church, where they perform community service projects, bicycle rides to
Mexico and sporting events. He also helps church teens who are in the Eagle
Scout program and sets up community service activities for them.
Other organizations in which Zylstra has active roles are the Youth
Little League Board and the Youth Sports Council. In the Youth Little League
Board, Zylstra served as treasurer and does maintenance for the baseball
field, located at Palota Park in La Verne. He is also a former member of
the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). He has some soccer experience
in the past, but never grew an interest in the sport.
"I coached soccer before, but then after a while, the kids got
to know more than me," Zylstra says. "If you grow up playing certain
sports than you get more comfortable teaching kids those games."
Zylstra's favorite sports are basketball and baseball, and he finds
enjoyment in playing and coaching. His best coaching experience occurred
two years ago when the La Verne All-Star basketball squad defeated the Pasadena
team in the San Gabriel Valley Championship. It was the first time that
La Verne had beaten Pasadena. Andre Bossieux ('84), a former University
of La Verne basketball player, was an assistant coach of that squad.
Bossieux is not the only ULV player with which Zylstra is familiar.
Juniors Kevin and Greg Gustafson, current members of the ULV basketball
team, are Zylstra's nephews.
"He is a great guy who has always been good to his kids,"
said Kevin, a three-time First Team All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic
Conference (SCIAC) selection. "It is fun just to be around Dave because
he is a fun guy, like he will play basketball and video games with us. He
is not like a lot of older guys who get tired and don't want to do anything,
he is real active."
Zylstra says, "I enjoy my work and I enjoy the youth programs.
None of it is a job for me."
Dave Zylstra holds practices for the basketball team, The Wizards, that
he coaches at his house. Zylstra has a lighted basketball court in his backyard.
He has been coaching basketball and baseball for 11 years. Devon Ussery,
Eric Campa, Brock Zylstra, Shane Heltsley, Garrett Fisch and Kevin Anderson
played on the basketball team this season which remained undefeated until
the championship game.