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And that’s what it’s all about

Brian HamiltonNevada Union football coach Dave Humphers, holding Jon Sheets' award from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame, is flanked by NU honorees Joe Dolan (left) and Shane Curry Wednesday.
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I’d been fortunate enough to cover nearly every sport under the California sun since joining The Union.

From watching water polo to reporting on a rodeo – and of course all the traditional sports staples in between – the events here in Nevada County run the spectrum of the sporting world.

Still, I’d never walked away from an event feeling as good about what I’d witnessed as I did Wednesday night.



There have been more exciting events – the two-minute drills, the half-court buzzer-beaters, the walk-off home runs.

But would you believe that covering an awards banquet, of all things, left me thinking, “This is what it’s all about.”




And it’s the truth.

Each year, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, Inc. honors more than 3,000 high school football players nationwide for their achievements on the field and in the classroom. For the Sacramento Valley chapter, that meant 19 area student-athletes were invited to take the stage for a round of applause at the Radisson Hotel Wednesday.

Of those 19, three were from the Nevada Union football program.

NU head coach Dave Humphers looked the part of a proud papa as Shane Curry and Joe Dolan, both decked out in tuxedos for the black-tie affair, walked in the spotlight to the banquet’s head table. The third member of the Miner trio honored that night, quarterback Jon Sheets, had a prior commitment – helping the NU basketball team to a 48-47 win over Metro Conference foe Kennedy.

Each of the honorees was introduced as he entered the ballroom. But rather than run down seasonal or career statistics on the field, the emcee instead read aloud the more vital stats – namely, each student’s grade-point average and college choice.

And as if his 4.0 GPA wasn’t enough to floor the crowd, the fact that Dolan is headed to Princeton next fall had the entire house “

“How strange is that,” I wondered. Here was Dolan, the Miner wide receiver who brought NU fans to their feet time and again with his pass-catching prowess. Yet on this night, he’d wowed the crowd with his mind.

Brilliant.

There was Curry, whose position as a lineman draws about as much attention as a game official. You know, the only time they’re noticed is when they make a mistake. Yet the announcement of Curry’s 3.9 GPA shows that he took care of his school work as well as he did his opponents on the opposite side of the ball.

So much for the dumb-jock stereotypes.

Once the awards were presented, keynote speaker Bob Ladouceur took to the podium. Ladouceur, the head coach of De La Salle High School in Concord, knows a bit about football. His Spartans have won a slew of state and national championships and are currently riding a 138-game winning streak.

Ladouceur shared several aspects of the game that he’d learned during his years of success. But there was no talk of angle blocking or weak-side blitzing. When it came time for him to talk football Wednesday, would you believe the guy spoke of love?

He shared all that is good in sports, especially the development of relationships and the bonds of trust between teammates and coaches.

He showed how sports can mold a young man or woman, teaching them to set aside their personal egos for the common good of a team – and how that personal challenge parlays into life off the football field, whether your future teammate is your co-worker or your spouse.

After Ladouceur left the stage, foundation director Bob Keropian honored those in attendance that perhaps deserve the most praise, the parents of the players.

The parents, however, received no plaques, no awards, from the foundation.

And that was just fine.

Their trophies were already on display for all to see, seated at the head table, the product of hard work and support, serving as a shining example of what scholar athletics – and sports in general – is all about.

Brian Hamilton is The Union sports editor. He may be reached via e-mail at

Past honorees from Bear River and Nevada Union high schools:

1988 – Adam Rechs, Bear River

1989 – Kris Johnson, Bear River

1990 – Jason Skaggs, Nevada Union; Curtis Vals, Nevada Union

1991 – Richard Gauntlett, Bear River

1992 – Eric Belding, Bear River; Mike Sample, Bear River

1993 – Marshall McCauley, Nevada Union

1994 – Justin Allmon, Bear River; Scott Heilmann, Nevada Union; Thor Larsen, Nevada Union

1995 – John Anderson, Bear River; Russ Angold, Bear River; Zachary McSweeney, Nevada Union

1996 – Jon Morrisey, Bear River

1997 – Richard Diebold, Bear River; Brian Dwyer, Nevada Union; Beau Huiskins, Bear River; Micah Wittler

1998 – Adhern Heidelberger, Nevada Union; Eric Pollock, Bear River; Nick Schulte, Nevada Union

1999 – Jason Wallace, Nevada Union

2000 – Joshua Van Matre, Nevada Union

2001 – Logan Carter, Nevada Union; Spencer Havner, Nevada Union; Jason Leach, Nevada Union

2002 – Matt Logue, Bear River

2003 – Shane Curry, Nevada Union; Joe Dolan, Nevada Union; Jon Sheets, Nevada Union

Distinguished coaching award:

1999 – Dave Humphers, Nevada Union

2002 – Terry Logue, Bear River


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