Sunday, February 7, 2010

About My Husband's Love

Saturday night was coaches appreciation night. I was asked to write something about Howard's coaching career to read before the games. He was just a bit surprised. Below is what I shared.

Howard Main began his coaching career in 1997 as an assistant coach to Steve King. He coached under Steve for three years and when Steve pursued his coaching goals with Special Olympics, Howard stepped into the role as head coach in 2000. His love for the game and for the kids he has coached is apparent to anyone who knows him well. Howard has served in the capacity of boys coach longer than any other in New Hope’s history. He more recently spent two years as athletic director and has coached in summer basketball programs with local area high schools. He was instrumental in the gym floor project and the fundraising for it. Howard has worked very hard to build the basketball program over the last 13 years, not without significant sacrifice at times. Howard has gained so much from his coaching opportunities at New Hope. He has developed a great rapport with many other schools and counts several of the coaches he competes against as his friends.

His proudest moments of his coaching career are not measured by score alone and often come after the games are over. Weather being approached by spectators of the opposing teams who thank him for the great attitudes of his players or the restaurants who stay open late on road trips and express how well mannered the kids are while eating at their fine establishments! He feels blessed to have the opportunity to coach such outstanding young men. Our three boys were born during the time that Howard has coached and all of them could call the New Hope gym their second home. He appreciates how well our own boys are cared for and loved by the basketball players and their families.

If I had to choose some of Howards fondest memories, they would most notably be the dangerous game of fossil ball, being left behind while using the restroom in Bandon (it only took and hour to figure out Howard wasn’t on the bus!) trips to Paisley complete with shooting range and hot springs, convincing some na├»ve boys that Northlake HS actually had a mechanical bull in their gym, the week long time spent at Lake of the Woods in the Colvin’s cabin, tearing out the orange rug to make way for a new floor, the sage rat hunt in Eastern Oregon with his current coaching staff of Josh and Darren, countless super bowl parties and the annual overnight practice.

Howard has been fortunate to be a part of some wonderful things as the product of his efforts, in most recent years three consecutive state playoff appearances and the schools first ever state playoff victory for basketball. The basketball program has also received several academic honors from the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association including the top award in 2007 for the highest grade point average of any boy’s basketball program in the State or Oregon. Additionally, he had the honor in 2009 of co-coaching with James Ellis for the All Star Tournament. The team was comprised of the top athletes from among the Skyline and Mountain Valley leagues, and included one of our own, Noah Cunningham.

Howard has experience difficult times as a coach, including losing players to injury, bus trips ending up stuck in the snow, our third child being born with severe medical complications during the season 4 years ago, and missing baker City by 4 points last year with a loss to Mohawk. But the hardest moment by far was when his coaching partner and friend, Gary Heater, passed away during basketball season 5 years ago this week. He loved Gary and the level headed consistent demeanor he brought to the court. Gary balanced out Howard’s often excited coaching style and Howard carries with him many memories and coaching tips from his good friend.

As his wife I often find more entertainment in watching Howard coach than in the actual game, his animated movements and pacing of the sideline has simmer down, but he still makes me nervous on occasion. I also witness the amount of time and dedication spent behind the scenes preparing for each game and each season. Its apparent in the coaching books and magazines stacked up on the book shelves, the water bottles in the dishwasher, the laundry room full of uniforms and towels, the couple time spend folding all that laundry, the fogged up bathroom mirror with plays etched in it and the familiar voice of the newspaper reporter who calls every weekend late at night for the final scores.

I suppose there are many things I have missed trying to reflect over the last 13 years but the one obvious thing is his love for the players and the life lessons and character building that speak louder than a score board ever will and go farther than the court will ever take a player. In Howard’s own words “no worthy pursuit is without challenge and sacrifice” and I believe he would call this experience a worthy pursuit.

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