There have only been a handful of instances where the coach of a college basketball team has the opportunity to coach his own son throughout his entire collegiate career.
This instance of course leads to a unique connection both between coach and athlete, and father and son. Just ask Oregon State Men’s Basketball Head Coach Wayne Tinkle, who has coached his son, Tres Tinkle, ever since the 2015-2016 season at Oregon State.
Tinkle credits this unique coaching opportunity with helping him and his son bond more together.
“The great thing is just how much closer we’ve grown together,” Wayne Tinkle said. “Without this experience, it couldn’t necessarily happen the way it did. We were always close, but just kind of a new bond. But now we just look back at it and laugh.”
But it was not all laughs at first. When Tinkle first took the head coaching job, he said that it was hard at first to find a middle point between being a parent and being a coach.
“It was a learning process for both of us,” Tinkle said. “He was used to me coaching him, but it was more one on one, or sitting there watching video. I think for him to get used to me coaching him in front of his peers, or getting after him if he wasn’t being aggressive enough, he didn’t know how to respond to it.”
The relationship and line between coach and parent is one Tinkle had to navigate with his son.
“He [Tres] saw it as dad coming down on him instead of coach,” Tinkle said. “There were times where he would come home for Sunday dinners and we wouldn’t say a word to each other. He was telling mom and his sisters that I was being especially hard on him because he was my son. But that wasn’t the case.”
It took some time, but eventually, the perfect balance point between father and coach was found, which would help Tres catapult his career with the Beavers.
This past season, with Tres being a senior and only having one more chance to play with his dad, the thought of having one more season left with his son was something that was always in the back of Tinkle’s mind. However, Tinkle focused more on embracing the present, rather than worrying about the future.
“We talked about it going into the year. ‘Let’s really enjoy this, this is our last go around.’ I really just tried to enjoy the last bit of what was really special,” Tinkle said. “We enjoyed every year, but knowing that this was going to be the last year, we probably took a little more advantage of it.
And although Tinkle could name countless of memories with his son, from his first game against Iona University, where he assisted Drew Eubanks with a dunk and sending Gill Coliseum into a frenzy, to overcoming an ankle injury against the Oregon Ducks at last year’s Civil War Basketball game, there is one memory that tops all of them: Tres’s senior night against the University of California Bears. This game came just two days after Tres broke the Oregon State all time scoring record.
“I didn’t want to let go,” Tinkle said. “I really wanted to give him that big embrace, and I can’t remember exactly what I said, but just thanking him for all he did for Oregon State and telling him I loved him and appreciated everything he did. It was emotional, then you quickly had to put it behind you.”
After the Beavers defeated the Bears by a score of 75-46, they packed their bags and traveled south to Las Vegas to compete in the PAC-12 Tournament. In their first and only game of the tournament, the Beavers defeated the Utah Utes by a score of 71-69, after Jarod Lucas made a three-point basket with just one second left in the game. The Beavers were sent to face off against the Oregon Ducks in a Civil War rematch the following day.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the rematch never happened, the tournament was cancelled and the season was finished. It was an abrupt and heartbreaking end to Tres’ season and career at Oregon State.
Tinkle said that the team was devastated with the news, but his daughter, Joslyn Tinkle, did her best to lift up the team’s spirits.
“My daughter Joslyn was the one that said ‘I’ve been to three [PAC-12 Tournament] final fours, and we lost in all three final fours,” Tinkle said. “One thing you guys will always be able to say is that you were in the PAC-12 tournament and you won your last game together.’”
Even though the season ended a way nobody wanted, Tinkle has used that abrupt end as motivation for next season.
“What I’m excited for next year is we’ve added some real talent at several different positions, and I think our depth is continuing to become a strength,” Tinkle said. “It was tough recruiting for a couple of years, but now we’ve got things back where we need to go.”
As for Tres, his collegiate career may be over, but he still plans on entering the NBA draft, which is scheduled for sometime in October.
“He’s having to stay patient, but I think that because of all the adversity he’s dealt with in the past with injuries and that sort of thing, I’m amazed at how level headed he is staying during all of this,” Tinkle said. “He knows that he works his tail off, and he’s going to do his best to find a way.”
Lastly, Tinkle had nothing but kind words to describe his son.
“It was a heck of a ride. I appreciate all he did for Oregon State University and our men's program,” Tinkle said. “And I know his legacy will live on, and the work he and his teammates did will lead to bright things in the future.”