[Editor’s note: The idea behind “Alphabet Stories” is to write one noteworthy athletics-related story about each OSAA-member school. We started with Adrian HS on Sept.18. Today’s story, three months later, is about Cascade Christian HS. The goal will be to write two per week. While we will be relying upon athletic directors to furnish story ideas, anyone may offer suggestions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org]
Brian Morse was studying business at Seattle Pacific University, more than three decades ago, when Microsoft’s Bill Gates came to the school with job offers in hand.
Morse’s classmates who accepted those offers have long since retired.
Morse, the veteran boys basketball coach at Cascade Christian, chose something even more valuable: family, community, a sense of belonging and the opportunity to directly impact lives.
Morse grew up in the Medford area and was part of the first graduating class at the newly-named Cascade Christian in 1984. Morse starred on the first Challenger basketball team to reach the state tournament. He met his wife, Jennifer, at the school when they were sophomores. Microsoft was a fine opportunity, but Morse had something else in mind.
“I wanted to come back and raise my family here,” he said. “And I knew I always wanted to coach.”
Morse graduated from SPU in June, 1988, and returned home. That same month he married Jennifer and was hired as head basketball coach at his alma mater.
“It was a big month,” he understated.
Morse had an inauspicious start as head coach at Cascade Christian. In his first game on the bench, the Challengers trailed 37-0 after the first quarter! Fortunately, things got better quickly. Cascade Christian went from single-digit wins that first season in 1989 to winning seasons and making the playoffs every year for the next 30. Morse currently ranks ninth all-time in Oregon in career boys basketball wins, one shy of 600. His teams captured state titles in 2007 and 2009, when his son, Scott, was a Challenger standout. Scott, one of four Morse boys to play for their father at Cascade Christian, is now an assistant coach for the Challengers and helped a scrappy bunch reach the 3A championship game last winter.
There are more success stories on the horizon for Cascade Christian. Donminic Lewis, who was First Team All-State last year as a junior, returns for the Challengers. Morse also is looking forward to coaching freshman twins Austin and Peyton Maurer, the sons of Marty Maurer, one of the best athletes in the history of the school. Austin is 6-9 and considered by many to be among the state of Oregon’s next great players.
The wins and titles, however, do not define Morse’s legacy. Nor does the longevity. The positive impact he’s had on so many…that’s what Morse will be most remembered for when he eventually decides to hang up his whistle. Read what those who know him best have to say about Morse as a coach and person:
“Coach Morse is one of the most thoughtful and caring male role models I have had in my life. He cares about my wellbeing on and off the court. I know I can depend on him for anything.” -- Donminic Lewis – Class of 2021
“Coach Morse has influenced me in so many ways, both on and off the court, and always in a positive way. He is the type of man that always is trying to make you into the best person you can be. Sometimes you may not like the way he is getting you there during the moment. Or what he is telling you at a certain moment. But, in hindsight, he is almost always right. To me he is more than just a coach. He is a mentor.” Cody Reece – Class of 2022
"Many coaches use players to build programs. Here at Cascade Christian High School, we have been truly blessed to have a coach who used a program to build student athletes into young men! Coach Morse gives those who are fortunate to play for him the very best basketball and life experience possible!" -- Dave Fennell -- CCHS AD 2006-2017
“Brian is someone I look up to and someone I aspire to be like. He's one of my role models because he is an incredible leader with great character. He has so much love and care for every individual in his program. He curates an environment to get the absolute best out of you. We teach so much more than just the game because Brian understands success isn't defined by wins and losses on the scoreboard. Success is defined by who our kids become.” -- Ryan McLemore – Alumnus and Assistant Coach
“Coach is one of the most genuine men I have ever had the pleasure of being mentored and coached by. The love for his players extends well beyond the lines of the basketball court. He is always there for any player he ever coached. To see his face when a graduated player comes into the gym during winter break is all you need to know about the heart he has for his players, current and former. I am simply a better man in Christ because of my relationship with Coach Morse.” -- Darby Flenner – Alumnus and Assistant Coach
“Coach Morse treats everyone like they are part of his family. That includes coaches, former players, current players and even opposing coaches and players. He makes everyone feel important and welcome in his presence. Basketball practice is never just about basketball. He is always reminding his players to be respectful to their teachers, thankful to their parents, and hard workers both on and off the court. He has assembled a staff of coaches who are all participants in this vision and that’s why the students love him and come back to see him long after they have moved on with their lives.” -- Mark McLemore – Assistant Coach
“The results of his work are self-sustaining and rooted in developing boys into men. Through the years he has always surrounded himself with great coaches and given them the freedom to make impactful contributions. Essentially each coach is empowered to multiply the qualities he has instilled in the program.” -- Scott Morse – Alumnus and Assistant Coach
“I have coached with Brian for 25+ years. He loves the game, but he loves people more. If you play for him or are a part of the program, he will be involved with you for life. The coaching success speaks for itself, but the positive influence he has had on people will count for generations.” -- Paul Sha – Assistant Coach