Beloved Waukesha South basketball coach says his players inspired him to reach out to the less fortunate

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WAUKESHA (WITI) -- Teaching and coaching were his calling. That's what Dick Luther says he knew many years ago, but he never imagined going homeless to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

"I bleed black and red. The kids know it," Luther said.

On a high school football Friday last fall, Luther, who goes by "Coach" to those who know him best wasn't going to miss a chance to see his Alma Mater -- Waukesha South, known as Waukesha High School when he went there 50 years ago, take on arch-rival Waukesha North.

In addition to teaching in the classroom for 32 years, Luther coached high school and college basketball teams for close to a half-century. The Wisconsin coaching legend helped UW-Waukesha win two state championships, and he was on the bench with UW-Whitewater won the NCAA Division III crown in 2012. His philosophy is a slam-dunk winner.

"Basically, my philosophy is you look beyond the scoreboard and allow kids to go on in life with being a competitor, work ethic and focus that they have to take into their jobs and with their families," Luther said.

Luther is the ultimate competitor, but he values lasting relationships with his players even  more than the wins and losses.

"I have been blessed. There's no question about it. I have been blessed to see these great kids develop as doctors, lawyers, you name it. When I see my players come back, call me, email me when they have the birth of a child or getting married, it's something really nice. It's something that I really relish,"

Luther and his son were searching for some other way to impact others. Then came a life-altering revelation.

"We found out that there was a possibility that one of my college players may have been homeless," Luther said.

Their path took them to the Hebron House, which serves men, women and children in Waukesha County.

"I walked in there and I saw some of my students that were in there, and I found out that it was a shelter and that they didn't have a house, a home. The thing that helped us the most to raise money and raise awareness is we went homeless on Christmas Day for 24 hours, and I did it four times. It's just a tough world out there for them, and especially the young kids," Luther said.

Father Time and the harsh weather conditions at Christmas have made going homeless difficult, but Luther still delivers over 100 turkeys to the less fortunate every Thanksgiving.

"The more we can do, the more we can pitch in, these shelters are doing great things. They're educating people. They're getting them jobs. I've been blessed and I want to give some of it back as much as I can," Luther said.

Luther has come full circle. He's back at his Alma Mater Waukesha South High School helping Coach Bo Richter. As it turns out, Luther taught Richter in grade school!


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