Though first coined when his predecessor roamed the sidelines, it was over the 22-year head-coaching career of Dave Humphers that the phrase “Miner Magic” became synonymous with Nevada Union High School.
On Thursday, that football career came to an end when Humphers announced he was hanging up his whistle and ever-present fishing hat.
“It really is kind of unprecedented in a way, around here, with the tenure he’s had,” said Nevada Union Principal Mike Blake. “He’s been such a figure with not just Nevada Union football but Nevada Union in general.”
Humphers leaves the helm as Nevada Union’s leader in all-time victories with 195 wins, along with 10 league titles and four Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championships.
His resignation marks an end to the most successful run in school history, as Nevada Union football had not won a single section banner prior to Humphers taking over the program.
“Simply put, I’m ready for change. My family’s ready,” Humphers said Thursday. “I’ve been wrestling with this for awhile. I just think it feels like the right time for a change.”
In all, Humphers had coached high school football for 38 consecutive seasons, beginning with a nine-year stint as an assistant under Randy Blankenship at his high school alma mater Mira Loma, where he first learned the wing-T offense that powered Nevada Union past so many opponents. He followed Blankenship to Nevada Union, where he spent seven seasons as an assistant prior to taking the reins of the program in 1991.
Over the final three seasons of his career, Humphers had the opportunity to coach his sons, Gabe and Hank. He said he now looks forward to watching the boys play college football Saturdays, as well as having more time to catch his daughter, Sophie, in action on the basketball court and in dance performances.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my kids in the next phase of their lives,” he said. “Of course, Sophie will be here, and the boys will be away. I just don’t want to miss it. I’ve missed a lot of things, and I don’t want to miss it.
“The sacrifices our family made, with a huge amount of appreciation to my wife (Doreen), it was a lot,” Humphers continued. “But we also made the choice to raise our kids on the fields. There were those years where little Gabe and little Hank were out there climbing on the blocking dummies, while our team was out there practicing. … We kind of built our life around Nevada Union High School and being part of the school culture.”
Humphers said he plans to continue to be a part of that culture as a physical education teacher.
“I’ve got about a thousand favorite memories,” he said. “A lot of those are snapshots of moments, after a great play and a kid is feeling good about himself; a thank-you after a game for trusting a player by giving him the ball on a play, or an email from a kid who’s gone on to college and appreciated something that had happened years before.
“I’ve got lots and lots of those memories that made this such a rewarding career.”
Some of those memories were made during a 45-game home win streak that stretched between both the sideline stints of Blankenship and Humphers at Nevada Union.
It was during that time that teacher Chris Owens was credited for coining the phrase “Miner Magic.”
“There were a couple of times we should have lost at home, but we’d either block a field goal or it would barely miss wide right or we’d come up with a miracle play,” Blankenship told The Union in 2004. “And Chris started that phrase ‘Miner Magic.’”
The words are now often chanted throughout Nevada Union sporting events but most often under the lights Friday nights at Hooper Stadium.
“I told him (Thursday) morning, ‘Dave, you are Miner Magic,’” Blake said. “He’s really the guy who made that meaningful. That’s who he is … and not just in terms of his success and wins but in his influence on young men’s lives.
“He leaves quite a legacy at Nevada Union, and we are so very appreciative of his contributions.”
And Humphers shared his appreciation for the school and community he has served in the letter of resignation he released Thursday.
“I am the most fortunate man on Earth for the family I have raised and love,” he wrote. “ It is time to focus more on family, to watch my sons play college football, to watch dance performances and girls’ basketball and to support my wife in her dreams and goals the way she has supported mine for the last 23 years.
“She has given the best years of her life to me, to raising our family and to supporting my passion for NU football.”
To contact Managing Editor Brian Hamilton, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4249.