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Loren Dils, Former Asst. Tennis Coach, Passes Away at 55

by Frank Mercogliano

"I don’t mourn what I miss. I focus more on what I can do, not what I can’t do."

Loren Dils in 2013 on his philosophy of living with ALS

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Loren Dils, a 2011 UNM Hall of Honor inductee and a longtime assistant coach and member of the Lobo Men’s Tennis program, passed away on Wednesday, November 3 at age 55.

The native of Belen spent 13 years as an assistant coach with the Lobo men’s tennis program from 1989-2008, and then served as the Lobo Tennis Club Director from 2008-11.  He was inducted into the UNM Hall of Honor in 2011 in tandem with his twin brother Alan Dils, who was the head men’s coach.  The two brough havoc to the WAC and the Mountain West, and Loren combined with Alan for 10 conference titles between the two leagues.  Combined they were named Conference Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year four times and they are the winningest tandem in school history.

Dils was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, early in 2008.  He finished out that season coaching before moving to the Lobo Tennis Center, where he served as director for parts of three years.

While Dils ultimately could not defeat ALS, he lived with the disease for nearly 14 years since that 2008 diagnosis.  He traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby for more research and funding on behalf of the ALS Association of New Mexico. He eventually returned to coaching tennis, serving as an assistant coach for Jefferson Middle School.  He stayed a fixture on the sidelines at Lobo Tennis matches, both at McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium and indoors at the Estes Tennis Center.

He was recognized by the USTA Southwest Section for his dedication to tennis in the face of adversity, and Dils appeared in the Tennis Magazine’s 2017 Heroes Edition.  Beside coaching at Jefferson Middle School, Loren also coached Junior Team Tennis in the summers.

The Loren Dils Courage Award has been presented to deserving student-athletes that have exemplified the courageous ideals of Dils since 2015.  Previous winners have included Hugh Greenwood, Diana Wong and D’Andra DeFlora.

Dils lettered in tennis at Northern Arizona, earning Honorable Mention All-Big Sky honors for the Lumberjacks in 1989.  He was a three-time All-Big Sky Academic selection.  He is survived by his wife Elaine and their two sons, Connor and Tanner who both play tennis at Albuquerque Academy.