In regard to Jim Black’s hit piece on Nevada Union head football coach Dennis Houlihan, I’m not sure where to start.
I’m confused if his issue is a lack of wins or alleged verbal abuse. Mr. Black identifies several areas of concern: quality of coaching, a coach that yells and a lack of on-the-field success.
It is interesting that Mr. Black points to the quality of coaching. Every member of this year’s staff, including coach Houlihan, has coached at Nevada Union in the past. They are the same men who helped mold the section champion teams of recent past. They are a committed group.
I’ve been around athletics my whole life. Some coaches yell and some don’t. Yelling, in and of itself, does not create a negative environment. I’ve observed coach Houlihan interact with student-athletes at practice and in the classroom. When they talk, he looks them in the eye and gives them his undivided attention. I would say he treats students with a tremendous amount of respect.
No one, certainly not coach Houlihan, is excited by this year’s results. However, he is laying the groundwork for future on-the-field success. He and his staff are already preparing for next year’s season. His commitment extends to coaching in the Junior Miner program to make sure next year’s freshmen are prepared for high school football.
Most importantly, coach Houlihan is creating a culture of respect. His student-athletes are carrying out acts of community service. They are performing in the classroom. Several of his football players are in my class. They sit in the front of class and are active participants. They are holding doors open for fellow students and teachers. They are campus leaders.
Winning is important. That’s why we keep score. It is certainly not as important as helping develop young men into community contributors who will help Nevada County and the United States. Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding. I am so impressed with coach Houlihan that I invited him to coach my freshmen basketball squad. He is a coach’s coach. We need more coach Houlihans.
Jeff Dellis, Nevada Union teacher and basketball coach, lives in Nevada City.