USD coach loses ‘good friend’ at school shooting

USD coach loses 'good friend' at school shooting by David Lias People across the nation, and most likely beyond, know of William �Dave� Sanders, a coach and teacher at Columbine High School.

It is believed that he may have helped save the lives of hundreds of students at the Littleton, CO school April 20 after two students attacked the building with guns and bombs in the deadliest school shooting in the nation�s history.

The coach, who died after being shot twice in the chest, has been hailed as a hero.

But he was more to Chad Lavin, women�s basketball coach at The University of South Dakota.

Sanders was Lavin�s friend.

Lavin is in his first year of a second stint as head women�s coach at USD.

Before returning to USD, where he guided South Dakota to three consecutive North Central Conference basketball championships from 1982 to 1985, Lavin was at the University of Wyoming for 12 years, from 1986 to 1998.

It was there that he met Sanders, who had come to the university to visit an assistant coach.

�In 1986, when I took the job in Wyoming, he was a really good friend of one of my assistants,� Lavin said. �That�s how I got to know him.�

Soon, Sanders� friendship wasn�t limited to just the coaching assistant.

�We became pretty good friends,� Lavin said. �He helped me get started with basketball camps. He was a co-director (of the camps) during the winter. And he�d come to a lot of our games.�

Lavin and Sanders built the camps up from 40 kids to 2,000 kids. For 12 years, the two worked side by side, and their families became close friends.

One of Sanders� daughters, Angela, came to Lavin�s camp nearly every year. And for the last four years, his wife Linda, worked for the camps, also. �So both my wife and I are pretty close to them,� Lavin said. He and his wife traveled to Littleton last week to attend Sanders� funeral.

When the Lavins first heard of the shootings at Columbine, they tried calling Sanders� home. Phone lines were jammed, however.

It wasn�t until later that night that a friend finally was able to reach Sanders� home. He then called the Lavins.

�That�s when we learned that he�d been shot,� Lavin said. �These are very tragic circumstances for everybody. I know they are for my wife and I, being close friends to Dave and Linda.�

Lavin struggles to find reason in the midst of the senseless brutality at the school.

�I think the Lord must have known that Dave would have saved those kids,� he said. �The way he responded was just natural to him.�

The media hype on some aspects of the tragic shooting has been extensive, he said. �But everything you hear about Dave is true. He was a class human being.�

The last time the two men talked was about a month ago.

Sanders was shot twice in the chest as he guided students down a hallway to safety. He staggered into a science classroom where students tore off their T-shirts and pressed them to his wounds. According to news reports, students pulled out Sanders� wallet and showed him pictures of his wife and daughters.

�Tell my girls I love them,� were his dying words.

In Littleton, Lavin said, �there is a lot of grief. It�s very difficult to get over.�

Lavin never had a chance to speak with Sanders� wife, Linda, since the shooting. But he knows that difficult times lay ahead.

�Dave actually was the rock of that family,� he said. �Things are going to be very difficult without him being there.�

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