(Fred Weinberg/the Penny Press) – I want to take a little space during this election year to tell you about something which is actually being done well in our public school system—at least in Washoe County.
Our Reno radio station, KNNR, among other things, broadcasts Reed High School football games. Now, you can learn a lot about life in high school athletics. And the classroom last week happened to be located at a stadium in Carson City.
Reed and Carson fought a tremendous battle for 47 minutes and 59 seconds, when Reed found itself with a four point lead, defending their goal on their 16 yard line.
With one second on the clock, the Carson quarterback hit his receiver in the end zone. In the press box, it looked for all the world like the ball went in and out of the receiver’s hands for an incomplete pass and a Reed win.
The officials huddled and called it a touchdown and then ran off the field. Carson win.
Shortly after that, Reed coach, Ernie Howren came to the press box for the post game show.
You might expect a coach to be a little hot at the officiating which did something that officiating should never do at that level which is determine the outcome of a game.
Howren, you should know, runs a tremendous program. And one part of that program is teaching his young men class.
“If we hadn’t have been that close,” said Howren, “we would have won.”
He simply refused to go off on the officiating. He preaches execution during the week and his focus didn’t change at the end of a hard fought losing effort.
“That game wasn’t lost on the last play,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal. “We had plenty of opportunities. That was the difference: They took advantage of their opportunities; we didn’t. We did not play the way we are capable of. Credit to Carson: they played their tails off and made us one-dimensional.”
He told our broadcast crew that the key to the game was how Carson simply killed Reed’s rushing game.
Now his young charges, some of whom are being heavily recruited at the Division One level, probably expected that their coach would back them up. (They got that to some extent from their broadcast crew.)
But their coach did two things that are hallmarks of a great program.
First, he immediately started focusing on next week’s game.
And, second, he gave his kids the tough love of explicitly analyzing the loss.
Losing may be part of life, but knowing why you lost and working on preventing it next week is part of success, and that is why Howren and Reed have been successful.
Coaches generally fall into two categories. One group is composed of decent technical guys who can produce winning teams when they have the right raw material.
The other group are folks like Ernie Howren who understand that not only are they coaching a sport, but they are teaching young men lessons they will use long after they’ve played their last down on a piece of Astroturf. Which, for most of them, is the last game of their senior year.
Twenty years from now, at the class of 2012’s reunion, the Carson quarterback and receiver will still be talking about that play. It’ll be a great memory.
But this week, Coach Howren will be teaching his whole team a lesson—it wasn’t the ref’s fault, it was yours—that, if his kids learn it, will help make them all successful 20 years from now.
And that is what, ultimately, schools and teachers are for.