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Andy Owens

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December 13, 2013
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Football program about more than wins, losses

How disappointed I am that Jim Black would write a personal attack on our football coach. I must speak out against his letter that was published in The Union newspaper last Saturday.

I am, like Mr. Black, a “super fan” of Nevada Union Football for the past 34 football seasons.

It has been my honor to keep the stats for the varsity and junior varsity football teams over these many years.

This year, I not only was at every football game, but I was in attendance at every football practice, so I did have a front-row seat to what was going on during football practice.

I take exception to Mr. Black’s assessment of Dennis Houlihan’s gruff and negative coaching style. Our football team would have gone through a brick wall for coach Houlihan.

If Mr. Black was afraid to confront Dennis about his coaching style, I would have gladly gone with him to talk with the coach.

Mr. Black makes it sound like he would have been beaten up by our coach for sharing his thoughts in a face-to-face meeting.

Did Mr. Black ever think about writing Dennis a letter to share his concerns instead of taking a cowardly approach of putting his thoughts in the newspaper for all of us to read?

Let me mention just few things that Mr. Black failed to mention in his open letter.

Dennis Houlihan wanted our football players to give back to our community and make this sport about more than just wins and losses.

Every weekend, members of our varsity football team were out somewhere in our community doing community service.

Why in the world would our team members be willing to do this if they did not respect their coach?

Mr. Black also did not mention that Dennis Houlihan after every varsity football practice would coach another three hours by coaching the Junior Miner football team, which by the way won its league championship in the playoffs.

This same group of boys will be freshmen next year at Nevada Union, and Dennis, along with many of our varsity football coaches, was building our program from the bottom up.

Mr. Black did not mention at the end of every football practice in our team huddle, Dennis would challenge his football team to be responsible in the classroom and for one another.

At every team huddle, he challenged these young men to be an example for the JV and freshmen football players who one day would be varsity players.

He even had the team captains go to the JV and freshmen teams and talk with them about what it means to be a Miner football varsity player!

Does this sound like a coach who used negative comments and put downs to inspire his team? I think not.

Yes, Mr. Black, the proof is in the pudding. Coach Houlihan seems to me to be teaching these young men that the principles of brotherhood, being responsible in the classroom, being good citizens in their community are pretty good life lessons to be teaching.

Would I have liked us to have won all 10 of our football games? Yes. But if I had to choose between winning and building character, please give me the latter.

By the way, did I mention that I had a grandson who was a two-year starter on the varsity football team and was a team captain?

He had nothing but respect for his coach, having played for Dennis his JV year and his senior year. I can assure you that he would have gone through a brick wall for his coach and his team. He learned so many life lessons from football it would take me a page to write about them.

So there you have it, just one man’s take on Mr. Black’s opinion. I will choose character building any day over a win. Go Miners!

Andy Owens lives in Grass Valley.


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The Union Updated Dec 14, 2013 12:10PM Published Dec 18, 2013 12:01AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.