By Dave DeLuca
Times are changing. Despite a long and rich basketball history at OSU, attendance at games has consistently decreased in recent years. Is this a symptom of poor play on the court, student apathy, or perhaps the increased number of games shown on television? Does it matter? Do you care? Wayne Tinkle cares plenty. He’s the new head coach of the men’s basketball team, and he intends to bring the fans back to Gill Coliseum.
Wayne has been living in a hotel here in Corvallis since being hired in May. He’s had to divide his time between moving his family from Montana, meeting his current players, and recruiting future players. The poor guy has barely had time to order a desk that fits. Spoiler alert: the man is tall. But Wayne took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to introduce himself to me, and to you.
Wayne was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His family moved several times due to his father’s career as the dean of students at Marquette University, Loyola University Chicago, and finally Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He was the youngest of 11 children. The large family was long on love and support, but sometimes short on possessions. “We had to learn to be good teammates. And, with a name like Tinkle, how to be tough,” he said.
Wayne went to high school in Spokane. He then played basketball at the University of Montana. He met his wife Lisa in Missoula, where she was a star on the UM women’s basketball team. In fact, she is a member of the University of Montana Sports Hall of Fame. After graduating, Wayne went on to play basketball professionally for 12 years, mostly in Europe. Wayne was lucky enough to return to his alma mater to begin a coaching career. He served as an assistant coach for five years before being promoted to head coach for eight more. With Coach Tinkle at the helm the Grizzlies won the Big Sky Conference twice, and went to the NCAA tournament three times. Lisa and Wayne have three children. Their daughter Joslyn graduated from Stanford. Daughter Ell is a junior at Gonzaga. The couple’s son Tres will be a high school senior in the fall.
Wayne has never been a big city guy, and loves the similarities between Missoula and Corvallis. He says both towns are blue collar, but with a nice mix of liberals and conservatives. Both are smaller towns that are based around big institutions. He marvels at the scenery of both towns. In Missoula the attractions are lakes and rivers. Here in Corvallis it’s lakes, rivers, and the ocean. He loves the fact that heavy traffic is virtually nonexistent in Corvallis. In fact, his work commute has actually decreased from 20 minutes at UM to 10 at OSU. Wayne and Lisa are looking forward to seeing more of Corvallis in the near future. So far, the coach has become almost too familiar with our restaurants and is looking forward to home-cooked meals.
Wayne approaches his new team like a family—a family that extends beyond the players and coaches. “The people who are preparing meals for us. The people that are cleaning our gyms and our offices, teaching our classes. We need to make teammates out of those people. We’re Oregon State University. We’re all part of the same team.”
The inclusion of students and staff on campus will also help revitalize the fan base. This formula worked for Wayne at UM, and he believes it will work at OSU. But what about the fans not on campus? How will the team reach out to them?
“We’re going to try to put a product out there of hard work, disciplined play, and togetherness. A real selfless type of play out there. We’re going to send a message that we’re going to be blue collar, we’re going to be exciting, we’ll be disciplined, we’re going to play together and it will be a fun brand of basketball to watch. And really, we’re going to beg for them to come out and support us in these early times when it might not translate into a lot of wins. In time, when we bring in more players and build this thing, we’ll really get this thing amped up. We’ll get to where we’ve got the pieces to the puzzle that can compete in the Pac-12 Conference, and really make them proud of not just the success but the way we went about it. Which is more important at the collegiate level.”
Wayne is counting on word of mouth to expand the fan base as well. He wants people to hear about his players getting involved in the community. Whether it’s by reading at grade schools or helping out at food banks, he will have his players out in the city making a difference. This will build a sense of pride which will radiate out to all of Corvallis, turning neighbors into fans.
When he’s not coaching or recruiting, Wayne loves running and playing golf. He’s planning on taking some long drives to explore Oregon. He plays hoops in the driveway with his competitive family. Wayne refuses to let himself, or his staff, become overwhelmed by the job. Everyone should have hobbies, and he is not above forcing his assistant coaches to take them up. So keep your eyes open, Corvallis, Wayne and Lisa Tinkle will be around. You should say hello.