Response to tough times defines character
December 18, 2013
As an administrator at Nevada Union High School and community member, I felt an obligation to respond to Mr. Black’s letter to the editor, “Time for NU football coach to resign” (Dec. 7).
Mr. Black has wrongly characterized what was a difficult football season for all concerned into a defamation of Dennis Houlihan’s character. Publicizing one’s disappointment about the season is a tolerated custom among fans, but making false statements about someone’s moral traits goes well beyond a standard of civil discourse. Mr. Black, “an important action has taken place to start NU back on the right track,” and Dennis is playing a significant role in this endeavor.
In fact, there may not be a more dedicated person to our youth in this county than Dennis Houlihan. In addition to his responsibilities as head coach of the Nevada Union varsity football team, Dennis is also the head coach of the 2013 champion Nevada Union Miner Midgets football team, head coach of the Nevada Union boys frosh basketball team, assistant coach of the Nevada Union junior varsity baseball team, this past season’s head coach of the Seven Hills seventh-grade basketball team, manager of a Nevada City Little League team, speed-training coach, part-time teacher at Nevada Union High School and part-time employee at a juvenile group home for adolescents who are emotionally disturbed.
Dennis has dedicated just about every free moment to our community’s children.
Mr. Black, it didn’t “all come down to the coaching (football players) received.” There are a multitude of reasons why the season unfolded like it did, and no one at Nevada Union, most of all Dennis and his coaching staff, is satisfied with the results. Rarely does a change in leadership create instant success. Bill Walsh started 2-14 with the 1979 San Francisco 49ers, Chuck Noll went 1-13 his first year as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tom Landry went 0-11 (and one tie) his first season with the Dallas Cowboys. These examples are not meant to suggest Dennis will become a Hall of Fame coach someday but only to point out that a coaching change sometimes takes a while to see positive results on the field.
This season was successful on many counts off the field. Players put in countless hours of community service, were held accountable in the classroom, supported other NU teams and organizations, were expected to help keep the campus clean, led the school in teaching the alma mater and clearly understood that being a Miner means more than just playing Friday nights.
I’m proud of our student-athletes, the community members who came out and supported them despite the losses and the coaching staff that never gave up. Tough seasons do happen, but it is how we respond to them that defines our character. The character of this team and the coaching staff was defined on the last play of the season and how they will continue to respond in the future.
Paul Lundberg is an assistant principal at Nevada Union High School.