Tim Chase has negotiated a roller-coaster ride of emotions in 2020.
Right now, things are good for Chase, who teaches mathematics and coaches girls basketball and girls golf at Beaver Dam.
“Health-wise, I’m feeling pretty well,” Chase said last week.
Chase acknowledged he was scared when he was diagnosed in January with a cancerous tumor in his colon.
He had surgery Jan. 30 at UW Hospital in Madison, and said the cancer hasn’t spread since the tumor was removed.
He’s scheduled to have more tests at the end of the summer, but said he’s excited about his current health prognosis.
Chase, who was in his 15th season coaching the Beaver Dam girls basketball team, and the Golden Beavers had hoped to become WIAA Division 2 state champions for the fourth consecutive time this past season.
But Chase was advised by physicians that he shouldn’t wait to have surgery after the season in March.
So, he had the surgery in late January, with the mindset he wanted to return as coach late in the regular season and for postseason when the Beavers chased history. He reached his return goal as coach as Beaver Dam sought an unprecedented fourth straight girls title.
“We were trying to do something historic this season with our team,” he said.
Beaver Dam (2017-19), Cuba City (2005-07), Flambeau (2006-08), Milwaukee Vincent (2007-09) and Milwaukee Washington (1994-96) are the schools that have won three consecutive state championships, according to WIAA records.
“I was doing everything I could to get back,” Chase said. “I was doing everything to get back for the tournament.”
Chase went on medical leave after Beaver Dam’s victory over Oregon on Jan. 18.
He made his first game appearance at a mid-February showdown in DeForest between the second-ranked Beavers and third-ranked Norskies. He sat on the bench while assistant Dan Hallman continued as lead coach.
Junior guard Maty Wilke had 25 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and three steals for Beaver Dam, which pulled away for a 63-40 victory that clinched its third consecutive Badger North outright title since joining the league in 2017-18.
Beaver Dam then defeated Reedsburg to finish 14-0 in the Badger North — its third consecutive undefeated finish in league play.
The top-seeded Beavers then defeated West Bend East, Whitefish Bay, Slinger and Pulaski in the Division 2 postseason, again advancing to the state tournament.
“I thought we were really coming together,” Chase said. “We played great through sectionals. I thought we were on the right track.”
Hortonville received the top seed for the Division 2 state tournament and was scheduled to play fourth-seeded Oregon, the Badger South Conference champion making its first state appearance in 40 years. Second-seeded Beaver Dam (23-3) was set to play third-seeded Pewaukee in the second Division 2 game March 13 at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
Chase said his team viewed receiving the second seed as extra motivation and was “really focused” during preparation for the state semifinal.
“I was feeling good about the postseason,” Chase said. “Then it ended — all of a sudden.”
WIAA Division 3 and Division 4 state semifinals were played March 12 in front of crowds of limited size as concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic grew.
Late that night, the WIAA decided to end the winter sports season, canceling the final two days of the girls basketball state tournament and the rest of the boys basketball postseason, which had just completed the sectional semifinal round March 12.
The Division 5, Division 2 and Division 1 state girls basketball semifinal games at the Resch Center weren’t played March 13.
“It is such a different feeling,” Chase said. “You have this feeling when you have lost.`You wish you had done this or you wish you had done that.’ Or when you win, you just feel great about it. But this? It’s like, what happened? … You feel bad for the kids. You just wanted to create one more weekend of memories for the season.”
Due to the unusual circumstances, the WIAA sent each qualifying team a trophy.
Chase said he understood the decision to stop the tournament, but also knew how disappointed his team and all the other teams were.
“It was really hard on the girls,” he said. “They had something to prove.”
The coronavirus outbreak eventually caused the state’s schools to be closed and the WIAA to cancel spring sports season competitions and state tournaments.
Chase taught his mathematics classes online and in virtual settings this spring. He waits to see what school and sports will look like in the 2020-21 school year. He has regained weight lost during his illness earlier this year.
The Beavers should have another strong basketball team next season. Senior Jada Donaldson, a tenacious defender moves on to UW-Milwaukee, but the heavily recruited Wilke and guard Natalie Jens lead the returners.
“We have a good nucleus coming back,” Chase said.
But the Beavers are left to wonder about this past season.
And we’re left to wonder if the 2020 season will be marked with an asterisk, as no state champions were crowned in girls and boys basketball. Does Beaver Dam remain the three-time defending state champion entering next season, is that streak over or will the record books have some explaining to do?
All Chase knows is that he dozed off the night of Wednesday, March 11, and when he woke up his wife was watching what was happening on TV: The NBA had stopped play that night because Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
And, all of a sudden, Chase said, “The world had changed.”