Chandler Unified School District administrators, board members, friends and family gathered Tuesday morning to remember Mike Desper, a longtime girls basketball coach and district administrator.
The ceremony dedicated a plaque in Desper’s honor near the front entrance of the district’s office. It marked the one-year anniversary of his death after a three-year struggle with cancer.
Superintendent Camille Casteel tearfully eulogized the man she said had “a sense of humor most of us would die for” and was “an instinctive leader.”
“I miss him every time I walk down the hallways,” she said. “He left us too soon.”
Desper led Chandler High School’s girls basketball team to four 5A state titles and then became the district’s director of secondary education after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2000.
Meg Gianesello, former assistant girls basketball coach at Chandler High School, said she thinks about Desper every day.
“You reflect on ‘what would Mike say here,’ ” said Gianesello, who is now the director of instructional services for the district.
“I lost a best friend,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.
Desper is survived by his wife, Tori, and daughters Tate and Riley.