CLASS OF 2019: Statistician, team chaplain Andy Owens to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
For 35 years Andy Owens was a pillar of the Nevada Union football program.
Whether he was keeping stats or leading the team in prayer, you could count on Owens to be on the sideline every Friday night, home or away, with a smile and a kind word.
“He was part of the football program for as long as I can remember,” said Dave Humphers, who coached Nevada Union football from 1984-2012. “There were many needs over the years and he’s always been a tremendous friend of the program and a friend of mine. I admire him and love him.”
Starting in 1980, Owens meticulously kept the numbers for the Miners football team, compiling a statistical history of the program. His time with the Miners spanned four head coaches and thousands of players. He was there for record-breaking performances, numerous league titles, section championships, an 0-10 season and everything in between.
For his dedication to NU football, Owens is being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame as a community contributor.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Owens said. “It’s just so incredibly humbling.”
When Owens first started, he thought it would be something he’d do until his son, Scott Owens, had worked his way through the program, but that was nowhere near the end.
“When Scott graduated, there were the juniors that he played with, so of course I had to stay around for them. Then those juniors became seniors and there was more juniors,” Owens said. “And, that was the beginning of their domination of Sacramento area football. After Scott, it was just always one football player after another that I wanted to see play. Really, that was my reasoning. I never thought that 35 years later I’d still be doing it.”
Owens’ official title was statistician, but he was so much more than that to the Miners football program.
In addition to his unparalleled stats at the time, he was the team chaplain and saw the Miners program through multiple tragedies over the years.
“Anytime people needed help and support, Andy was there for them,” said Humphers during an interview in 2015. “The times when we’ve had tragedies he’s always been there to help and lend his support. All that love he gives comes straight from the heart and he has made a difference in many, many lives.”
Owens said he treasures the time he has spent with the team both as a statistician and in leading the team prayer.
“‘Grab a buddy’ was my catch phrase,” said Owens, explaining when he led the prayer before each game, he’d have every player put a hand on another’s shoulder and one player would always hold his hand. “It started with Scott (Owens). He would always hold my hand and for some 35 years, some kid would always be there to grab my hand. I don’t know if they thought I was a lucky rabbit’s foot or what, but when I would step into that huddle to lead the prayer, somebody would reach up and grab my hand. I can name them off through the years. It kind of gave me that connection with them.”
Owens was with the Miners long enough to have started those prayers with his son, who played in the ’80s, and still be there when his grandson, Trevor Moore, came through the program and would hold his hand near the end of his tenure.
“I just can’t even put it into words the joy of having a son, and then years later a grandson, come through,” Owens said.
Because of his time spent on the sidelines with the football team, Owens formed bonds with many players and has performed weddings for several former athletes and coaches over the years.
HANGING UP HIS CLIPBOARD
After the 2015 season, Owens finally put down the trusty clipboard he’d been keeping stats on for so many years and stepped away from the Miner football team.
“I miss making those memories, but at 72 I’m not sure that my body misses walking up and down the sidelines, standing in the cold and the rain and all that stuff,” he said. “It was a great experience though.”
Over the years, Owens had multiple volunteers working with him to capture as many different stats as possible. Those fellow statisticians included his wife, Mary Owens, who joined him on the sidelines in the early ’90s and was on the sidelines with him until he retired from his duties with the Miners.
ROAD TO NEVADA UNION
After earning a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, Owens came to California in 1974 and worked as a pastor for a church in Sacramento. He would also serve in the same capacity at a church in Southern California. At that time, Owens yearned to return home to his native Oklahoma, but a chance opportunity brought to him by a former parishioner who had moved to Grass Valley changed his path.
“I was always looking over my shoulder, wanting to move back to Oklahoma,” Owens recalled. “But I came up here and this place had kind of Midwestern flare to the town, and so that’s how I got here. I’ve loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t live any place else.”
GRATEFUL AND HUMBLED
Owens said he’s humbled to be included in this year’s Hall of Fame class, and so thankful for the experiences he’s had in his multiple roles with the team. He expressed gratitude for Mary, as well as the many statisticians who aided his efforts along the way. He singled out Pete Christensen and thanked him for his efforts in jotting down the happenings on the field alongside him for so many years.
He also thanked Humphers for always making him feel like an integral member of the team.
Owens remains in Grass Valley with Mary, and while he is no longer keeping stats, he can still be spotted from time to time taking in a Miners football game.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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