CLASS OF 2019: Coaching great Dave Humphers to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
Friday night football at Hooper Stadium was the hottest ticket in town. Fans showed up in droves to watch as the Miners powered through their competition, regularly winning league titles and section championships. It was the Golden Era of Nevada Union football and it brought great pride and joy to the community.
At the helm of it all was Dave Humphers, who was the head football coach of the Nevada Union Miners from 1991-2012.
“There’s no question that Nevada Union football and Miner Magic through those two-plus decades was really, really special,” said Humphers, who first came to Nevada Union as an assistant coach in 1984 before taking the head coaching reins 1991.
The Miners had been on the doorstep of greatness in the late ’80s, but it was Humphers who took them to the top.
During his 22 years as the head coach, the Miners won 195 games, 10 league titles, five City Championships (1993, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2009) and four Sac-Joaquin Section titles (1993, 1994, 2005, 2009). He was also named the California State Coach of the Year in 2005, and was a 10-time league Coach of the Year.
“I felt a ton of pressure to build the program to the next level, and help continue to make Miner Magic get better,” said Humphers. “That really drove me. To not only maintain the program that we had built, but to get better, and that’s why it meant the world to me when we won our first section title.
“It was huge. It was huge for the school and the whole community, and to those kids on the team … It was on everybody’s mind that we hadn’t won one yet, so that was huge. I still smile just as much when I think about it.”
For his many achievements on and off the field with the Miners football program, Humphers is being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday.
“What made him so successful as a coach is he has standards for his players and his coaches and those standards never falter, and he keeps people accountable,” said Brennan McFadden, a fellow NU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee who played for Humphers and now co-head coaches the River Valley football team with him. “He’s the ultimate motivator. He gets everyone to work as hard as they can every single day.
“He’s phenomenal at preaching the team theme to the kids, and he teaches life lessons every single day.”
SUCCESS ON THE FIELD AND IN THE CLASSROOM
For Humphers, who over time became widely known for his high scoring Wing-T offense, ferocious defenses and the fisherman’s cap he donned on the sideline, it wasn’t all about the success on the field. He wanted his players to be successful in the classroom, in their higher education pursuits and in their adult lives.
“I’m most proud of our academic success of our program,” he said. “We had almost 100 players leave on scholarship, many of whom would not have gone to school had they not had the financial help.
“We wanted the kid to not only succeed on the field and academically but also be good citizens and maintain a level of discipline that people could be proud of.”
Former player and fellow Hall of Fame inductee Josh Van Matre said the lessons he learned from Humphers remain with him to this day.
“Coach Humphers instilled a tradition in us and a work ethic that carried over into my whole life,” Van Matre said. “With Humphers, it was expected that we worked hard. It was expected that if you work your butt off, good things will happen.”
Spencer Havner, another former player and fellow inductee added, “He was such a force in all of our lives. We spent so much time with him during those four years and he’s become such a legend in all of our lives. He really set the tone for us young men, and how to conduct ourselves in a professional manner.”
Humphers had high standards for his players and coaches. He asked for commitment, hard work and to put team over self. The demands were great, but so were the rewards.
“Miner Magic — it’s going all in,” Humphers said. “It’s really committing 100% to the program. We asked for that commitment from the kids, the coaches and the community. And, everybody bought in and it makes for great memories and a great legacy.”
Humphers said some of his favorite memories are the section title wins and the always thrilling bouts against the rival Grant Pacers.
“It was tremendous, positive rivalry,” he said of the nearly annual contests against Grant. “I mean we worked our tails off all year to put ourselves in a position to beat them, and I know they did the same for us.”
Humphers added being able to coach his two sons, Gabe and Hank, and having his daughter, Sophie, help on the sidelines were special times for him.
Humphers is also quick to dole out credit for all the success the program had while he was the head coach.
“I got to make it 100% clear that I appreciate the honor,” Humphers said of being inducted, before pointing to the many assistant coaches he’s had over the years, the community, the local media and the support of his family as the reasons for the program’s success.
He also oversaw the first turf field being installed at Hooper Stadium, in 2006, a vast effort, that he again credited the community for coming together and making it happen.
STILL AT IT
Humphers is still on the sidelines, as he and McFadden have built the River Valley program into a winner. He’s now well past 200 career wins and just last season helped lead the Falcons to their first playoff win in school history.
Humphers said he cherishes his role as a mentor of young men and doing so through the game he loves so much.
“There’s so much to be taken from the game,” he said. “We used to tell them, ‘You’ll gain lifelong memories that you’ll love forever,’ and that included winning and the joys of success, but also the relationships they formed.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.