Ted Chidester, a small-town Utah high school coach who left a big imprint on basketball all across the country, passed away Saturday in Panguitch due to natural causes. He was 81.
“He was a 1A type of guy,” said former Utah High School Activities Association and long-time Utah basketball coach Evan Excell. “If you were a high school coach in the last generation, you knew Ted. He was a jovial big guy who loved life.”
Though his basketball career began and ended in Panguitch, Chidester was the rare small town coach who stretched his wings into the college game.
Former Richfield coach Bob Cuff said Chidester was in the leadership of a Utah coaches’ group that invited Bobby Knight to speak at a clinic at the University of Utah.
Chidester, who had already won a Class B title at North Summit, struck up a friendship with Knight. The Panguitch native elected to get his Master’s Degree at the age of 40, and Knight asked him to work with the Indiana basketball team while he was getting his degree.
Chidester was an assistant with Knight when the Hoosiers won the 1976 NCAA championship and was proud of the championship ring he earned with the degree.
After playing basketball, baseball and track at Panguitch High where he graduated in 1954, Knight attended the College of Southern Utah, now SUU, where he played basketball. He joined the U.S. Air Force Base before getting his degree at Utah State.
Chidester’s experience with Knight led to a head coaching job at Northern Montana College and another head job at BYU-Hawaii.
After eight years, he returned to Panguitch where he was the junior high and high school principal. He couldn’t get the sport out of his blood and returned to coaching basketball. His Panguitch team won a state title in 1990.
But that would be the end of his travels. He was assigned to Lubbock, Texas, on an LDS mission, where Bobby Knight was then coaching Texas Tech. Chidester and his wife Shirley received permission to watch the Red Raiders basketball and football games. That led to an assistant coaching job and a radio color man for Texas Tech.
Longtime Panguitch radio announcer John Yardley said the funeral, scheduled Monday at noon in the Panguitch LDS stake center, was delayed for a week so Bobcat fans could watch their girls and boys teams play in the state Class 1A tournament in Richfield.
He is survived by his wife Shirley, six children, a foster son, 12 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
“He had a passion for high school sports,” said UHSAA executive director Rob Cuff, who was attending the 1A tournament in Richfield. “He loved the kids. He supported them in all of the communities where he lived.”