Hans de Lannoy battling cancer, to be inducted into San Ramon Valley Athletic Hall of Fame

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A retired San Ramon Valley High School basketball coach who led teams to 521 wins during his more than 30 years of coaching at the Danville school will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame Thursday night. 

Hans de Lannoy will become only the seventh athletic coach to be inducted into the hall, which also honors more than 40 former San Ramon high athletes, who excelled in sports, set records and were shining examples of sportsmanship in football, track and field, baseball, basketball, water polo, tennis, cross country, wrestling, swimming and soccer. %INLINE%

“I’m incredibly excited and a little nervous,’’’ said de Lannoy, who retired from coaching and teaching at the school five years ago. “I’m running the gamut of emotions.”

But friends and former students say de Lannoy is a person who can deal with extraordinary life challenges, including the kidney cancer he is currently battling, with a postiive outlook. 

“He hasn’t felt sorry for himself for a single moment,’’ said 1988 San Ramon high graduate Chris Meredith, who became a high school teacher and basketball coach himself following years of being mentored by de Lannoy

De Lannoy, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer last September and is undergoing treatment, said he is holding up well. 

"When you have 1.300 people wishing you well, and  the outpouring of love and support that I’ve received, it’s easy to remain positive, ‘’ he said.

A committee of professional athletes looked at many of his accomplishments when they considered de Lannoy for the hall of fame. 

De Lannoy was the Contra Costa Times Men’s Coach of the Year in 1984; the head coach that led San Ramon Valley men’s basketball to back-to-back East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) championships in 1986 and 1987; and head coach of EBAL championshiops for women’s basketball in 2006, among many more achievements. 

But de Lannoy's accomplishments go beyond the basketball court. He coined the most recognized school rally cry: “Home of the Champions” 30 years ago; was named “Mr. San Ramon Valley High School” in 2002; was the keynote rally leader at more than 50 sports rallies; and was 10 times asked to be a speaker at the school’s graduation ceremonies. 

“(This honor) is long overdue,’’ said Meredith. “Hans had the ability to integrate the student body and the basketball program as one unified force because he genuinely cared about every student in his class, in his basketball program, and any player from another school.” 

Other former students agree. 

“If you go to Facebook and look up Hans de Lannoy, you will see over 5,000 Facebook friends,’’ said 1986 graduate and high school swimmer Matt Gibson. “If Facebook allowed 50,000 (friends) he would max that out. Ninety-five percent of those Facebook friends are alumni.” 

And, friends say de Lannoy has an uncanny ability to remember and make poignant comments about friend’s careers, athletic achievements, life milestones and families on the social media site. 

“We all have some kind of gift and my memory is an incredible gift,’’ de Lannoy said Thursday.

More than 1,200 people are expected to attend the induction ceremony in the San Ramon high school gym starting around 6:45 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are needed to attend, but the story will be aired on the 10 p.m. news on KTVU. His name, title and picture will eventually hang in the foyer of the school gym alongisde other hall of fame inductees. 

"I’m just on an incredible journey,’’ de Lannoy said. “And I’m very blessed with all the support that I’ve been given. It is really overwhelming.”