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Perham's Coach Dave Cresap leading the way in wake of Zach Gabbard's collapse

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Begin today with the end in mind. Anyone who has ever been coached by Perham High School basketball coach Dave Cresap knows that phrase.

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Simple as it may seem, living up to that goal is a challenging task.

Yet, it is a task Cresap has tried to live up to.

Perham, a community of 2,559 people in northeastern Otter Tail County, has been shaken since one of Cresap's basketball players - Zach Gabbard - collapsed more than a week ago during a game.

Many have done what they can to help, and that includes Cresap, who has held numerous roles throughout the ordeal.

"Everyone had a strong opinion of Coach Cresap and they knew he'd give it his all on and off the court," said Perham senior guard Nick Tobkin.

"There's been even more respect. He's been able to persevere through this incident and he's been able to lead us."

Many have done what they can to help, and that includes Cresap, who has held numerous roles throughout the ordeal.

"Everyone had a strong opinion of Coach Cresap and they knew he'd give it his all on and off the court," said Perham senior guard Nick Tobkin. "There's been even more respect. He's been able to persevere through this incident and he's been able to lead us."

Being a leader

On the Thursday night Gabbard collapsed during a game at the Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton High School gymnasium, Cresap immediately headed to Sanford Hospital in Fargo.

Cresap's dedication was reflected by the fact that the clothes he was wearing Saturday were the same he was wearing when Gabbard collapsed.

"If there hadn't been some things at home that came up," Cresap said, "I'd have still been in those clothes."

But it is more than just comforting people at a hospital.

Cresap has been the one to shepherd the Gabbard family through this by acting as a spokesperson. He's found a way to mentor his players in what has been the most tragic experience of their lives.

Throughout all of this, he's still been a dad too.

"Of all my friends, my dad was closest to Zach," said Cresap's son Jordan, whose best friend is Gabbard. "Zach is always over at our house and he's like a second or third son to my dad."

Jordan and Zach were pretty much inseparable. They were often playing video games, eating dinner or sleeping over at each other's houses.

Jordan Cresap said his younger brother, Carter, a fourth-grader, started crying when he found out about what happened.

"I didn't know Carter was that close to him," Jordan Cresap said. "Zach really means a lot to him."

I love these kids

Cresap and his wife, Terry, have been married for more than 20 years. They have three kids and all of them play basketball.

"He's one of the most relentless coaches I've had and he's one of the most relentless dads someone could have," Jordan Cresap said. "He's always pushing me to be the best. He's a kind, gentle father, but he is hard on me. He's always been a role model for me."

The way Cresap relates with his kids is the way he's been with so many others.

He has coached at Perham for 16 years. During the offseason, he has coached area kids to four traveling team state championships.

"My son loves Coach Cresap like a favorite uncle," said Kent Mollberg of nearby Detroit Lakes. His son, Joe, played for Cresap on one of the traveling teams.

Cresap grew up in nearby Hawley, where he got into coaching at 12 years old by helping out here and there. He played basketball and coached baseball during the summers.

After college, he got coaching/teaching positions around the region until he decided he wanted to be closer to his parents in Hawley.

Through all these years, Cresap's goal has always stayed the same.

"I want these kids to be successful because I love these kids," he said. "They're like my family."

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