PREP FOOTBALL: Nevada Union head coach Dennis Houlihan resigns
After five years at the helm of the Nevada Union football program, Dennis Houlihan is stepping away from his role as head coach of the varsity team.
“As much as I really wanted to take our kids and go into the new league and get that experience, I just felt it would be too difficult being full time off campus,” said Houlihan, who resigned Wednesday. “I felt a real big disconnect between the team and Nevada Union for that matter, doing that this year. I just felt it would be too difficult to do next year going into this new identity.”
Houlihan, who works as a teacher at Silver Springs High School, was the third Nevada Union head coach since 1984, following past NU head coaches Randy Blankenship (1984-1990), whom he played for, and Dave Humphers (1991-2012).
“It meant the world to me,” Houlihan said of getting to coach at his alma mater. “It was something I always wanted to do when I graduated from Nevada Union. I felt very fortunate to come back and be able to coach.
“Even though it was difficult times, it was still a real privilege to be a part of the blue and gold. The kids that I have met in these last five years are wonderful kids. They will still be with me forever. Their hard work and what they stand for is exactly what Miners are.”
Nevada Union Athletic Director Jeff Dellis said Houlihan will remain as NU’s softball head coach and expressed gratitude for his work with the football program.
“I think ultimately, Dennis is good for kids,” Dellis said. “He works with their best interest at heart and he was able to bring some respectability back to the program in regards to player behavior on the field and off the field. He expected his kids to be gentlemen. I think they were known throughout the community for providing lots of community service. His kids were the ones sitting in the front of classrooms and engaged in class. They were holding doors open for teachers, and for all that I appreciate his efforts and the commitment he had to Nevada Union.”
Houlihan, a Nevada Union graduate and former player, took over the varsity head coaching position ahead of the 2013 season. The team went 0-10 in that first year and followed it with a 3-7 campaign in 2014, which stands as his most successful season with the Miners. Across his five years as the varsity head coach, he tallied an 8-42 overall record, an 0-29 record in Sierra Foothill League play and a 2-24 record at Hooper Stadium.
Off the field, the Miners regularly made a positive impact within the community and were awarded the 2013 Dick Nelson Award, which is presented annually by the Sac-Joaquin Section to the prep sports program that displays an undaunted commitment to its community.
“The people that see it from the outside they just see wins and losses, and going into it I knew it would be a struggle,” Houlihan said. “I was on the staff before; I saw it coming and I knew being in that league it would be very, very difficult. I really thought what I needed to do half the time was change the face of the program as far as putting time into our community, giving back and showing our kids that it’s a great community and it’s OK to be a part of that.
“There were a lot of tough times, believe me, nothing we went through was easy, especially the losing in the SFL. It isn’t good for anybody. But we did create some good things out of it and I think people saw the difference in our kids, in the way they behaved on campus and we never had grade problems. Those kind of things are the things we had to focus on because we were doing the right things, we just didn’t get any payoff for it.”
Houlihan added the relationships he forged with his players made his time running the program worth all the stress that came with it.
“I appreciate all the support from the school, but really what made this whole thing worthwhile was the kids I’ve been able to coach and the relationships I’ve been able to create with them,” he said. “It was a good chapter, but it’s time to close that book, bring someone else in to take them into the new league and I’ll be their biggest fan.”
Dellis said the job opening will be posted soon.
“That’s in the works right now,” Dellis said. “We think it’s an attractive job for the right person. Nevada Union has a lot to offer the right candidate and we’re excited to see who applies and who is interested in our football program.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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