CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- Hundreds of people gathered Sunday afternoon to remember a beloved high school basketball coach in Cumberland County.
Pat Dieter coached and taught at Boiling Springs High School for more than three decades.
It was a very emotional remembrance ceremony as friends, family, colleagues, students, and community members remembered the man they describe as larger than life.
There was of course pain but with that came stories of admiration and appreciation for Coach Dieter.
A former player wrote Dieter a special song, and current seniors on the basketball team cut the net down to give Dieter's family.
“We’re here today to celebrate the life of a man larger than life and a larger than life impact on his basketball teams, his community, and our entire family," said Austin Dieter, his son.
The coach mentored athletes even after their days on the court.
“Sometimes, before big games in unfamiliar places, he would remind his team it doesn’t matter how daunting the gym is cause the heigh of the basket and the length of the pane is always the same," added Austin.
"On the court, he instilled a work ethic and mental toughness that would carry with us today and how to win or lose with dignity," said Mark Wonders, a former player who became close with Coach Dieter.
"He was also an outstanding teacher," said Ken Stoltz, the man who hired Dieter. "His kids loved him, and they learned a lot from him.”
Colleagues say he was a great friend to have.
“I live my life different because of stuff he’s done for me. I'll continue to pass that on. That’s what I’ll do," said Jim Lithgow, a colleague, coach, and friend.
FOX43 learned people noticed when Pat Dieter wasn’t around.
"I took Lucy to her first NBA game to see the Sixers," explained Wonders.
Wonders told an incredibly heartfelt story about Lucy, his young daughter, and the first time she met Coach Dieter.
"We sat down, and I noticed she had a concerned look on her face, and I said, 'what’s wrong?’, she said, ‘where’s coach?’ To that little girl, it didn’t seem right there was a basketball game going on without him," explained Wonders.
For those who knew Dieter, it may not feel right for a while.
"I love you dad. I miss you. I’m going to go make you proud," added Austin.
"If you knew Pat Dieter, you were lucky," said Mamie Dieter, his daughter. "If you were loved by him, you were blessed.”
"And if I was blessed with one more chance to talk to him, I would only need two words... thank you," added Wonders.
Coach Pat Dieter passed away on February 18th at the age of 61.
Alumni tell FOX43 they are looking into finding a permanent way to honor him at the high school.