The classic disparaging remark levied at educators goes, "Those who can, do. Those who can't teach."
But don't tell that to Pete DeHaven. He's a doer and a teacher.
DeHaven, a 1970 graduate of Edison High School, coaches junior varsity basketball at Chantilly Secondary School, and, at age 25, he has played in gyms from D.C. to Hanover, Germany and on playgrounds from Fairfax to L.A.
Every weekend, DeHaven starts as forward for the semi-pro Washington Metros of the Eastern Basketball Association (EBA), a job he hopes will help will to fulfill his lifelong dream of trying out for a professional team in the National Basketball Association.
"I've never had the chance," deHaven says. "Plenty of others have. If the opportunity presents itself, I'm going to give if a try. I want the chance to satisfy my own mind."
From the time he was 8 years old, when he began playing basketball, DeHaven has structured his life around the game. In high school, he "played all the time," driving around with a basketball and sneakers in his car in case he chanced upon a pickup game.
As a senior at Edison, he averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds a game and was named to All-State and All-Regional teams. The 6-5 DeHaven was recruited by several schools including Ronvoke College, George Washington University, the University of Richmond and American University, where he signed a full scholarship because he "liked the coaching staff."
Though his college career was successful, it was dulled slightly by what he calls "a bad senior year" in 1974. There was a new coaching staff at American that year; All-America center. Kermit Washington had graduated, and the team had difficulty jelling, DeHaven said.
Once optimistic that a pro team would draft [WORD ILLEGIBLE] , DeHaven was disappointed when none [WORD ILLEGIBLE] So he wrote letters to the Washington Bullets and the Boston Celtics of the NBA requesting a tryout.
"They told me I needed a recommendation, and I had to be referred through their scouting system," DeHaven said. "I didn't know who to contact, so I didn't pursue it."
Besides, gyms across the Atlantic beckoned, and DeHaven accepted an offer to play with the Hanover, Germany 96'ers.
"Playing in Europe was an experience," DeHaven recalls, "but I didn't like it very much. I was the only American on the team. They paid for room and board and gave me a salary equal to about $800 a month, but the teams there only played once a week, and I had a lot of time on my hands.
"The contract I signed was in German, and I don't speak German. I was led to believe that it provided for a job in addition to basketball, but it didn't. I was spending a lot of money. Plus, playing there wasn't a long-term thing. Teams there are allowed one American player, and the job opens up almost every year."
De Haven returned to this area in 1975 and played in various leagues. He visited his friend Kermit Washington, then with the Los Angeles Lakers, but traded to the Celtics recently. DeHaven wound up in an informal pickup game wiht some of Washington's teammates.
"I feel I can play (in the pros)," DeHaven says. "There are NBA teams who have players with no-cut contracts who aren't 'as good as players who come to tryout camps. But the team can't afford to cut those players because they'd still have to pay them. It's the hard to break in."
So DeHaven keeps his dream alive at weekend games with the Metros, who called George Mason University's gym home until recently. The new home site has not been established.
On the road, DeHaven and his Metros teammates play one-night stands in places like Wilkes-Barre, Lancaster and Allentown, Pa., Brooklyn, N.Y., and Providence, R.I. The team doesn't pay for overnight accomodations, so DeHaven and his teammates drive home after the games. He is paid $40 a game and mileage if he drives.
"The team is in its first year in the league (which is 35 years old), so it's having some money problems, and I haven't been paid for a few games," DeHaven says. "But that's no problem. I'm not playing for the money."
He plays for the same chance Charlie Chriss received. After four years in the EBA, the 5-8, 28-year-old Chriss was given a tryout by the NBA Atlanta Hawks earlier this year and he's now the sparkplug of their offense.
"You never know who's watching you play," DeHaven says, even in places like Anchorage, Alaska, where the Metros played three games after Christmas. "The Anchorage taem paid all expenses. The people there want an NBA franchise, and they figure good attendance at EBA games will help their chances. They pay $9 a ticket and sell out."
Between EBA games, DeHaven shares his basketball with the Chantilly junior varsity.
"I wouldn't teach if I couldn't coach," DeHaven says. "I want them to enjoy the game. It's my way of putting something back into basketball for all the fun and success I've gotten from it."
Will DeHaven wind up as a varsity coach in high school or college? Or will he wind up in the NBA?
"I don't know," he says. "But it's hard to think of a day without basketball.