This being the day before Thanksgiving, I thought it only appropriate to give thanks for all those who have helped me over the years. Hold on, because 25 years of help won’t be quick!
To the coach who gave me my first job, Steve Castle, a buddy that I’d played flag football with, I wish I knew where you were now, but I think of you often. He brought me on as a know-nothing assistant varsity OL coach in 1991 and then somehow retained me when he got the HC job at Westminster La Quinta the next year.
To George Berg, the head coach at Fountain Valley High…man, coming from three consecutive 2-8 seasons with Division 8 teams, onto a staff in Division 1, coming off an 12-1 year….I don’t know why you took a chance on me, but I’ll be forever grateful that you did. I know I got thrown into the fire a little sooner than was planned, and I know that ’94 was a rough year, but thanks for all you did for me, both professionally and personally. My family will never forget.
To Willy Puga (QB’s) and Hank Cochrane (OC) at FVHS – you guys gave me some serious tough love, but it made me understand what was important and how to prepare on a real staff. 12+ hour days are never fun, but with you guys they were tolerable. Hank, you’re still my guru, whether you like it or not. The stuff I learned from you is still in my playbook.
To Bill Williams, who was another guy who took me under his wing and introduced me to coaches and opportunities that I never would have had on my own, the lessons learned from you while working camps and clinics will always remain. I’ve got a sense of urgency and serious attention to detail because of you.
To Mike Barry, Pat Ruel, Mike Sherman and Homer Smith (RIP)…..you guys, who are at the top of the food chain as coaches, didn’t have to give of your time as you did – especially when I was no longer a high school coach (or you’d moved on to the NFL) and had nothing to offer you (recruits). You gave freely anyway and have instilled in me a spirit of helping out younger coaches who maybe didn’t have the opportunities that I did to interact with you or other high-level coaches. Your knowledge has probably made up 90% of mine.
To Dan Tovar – thanks for showing San Diego it could be done! The concepts you introduced are still used and will always be in the back of my mind when designing an offense.
To Mike Suggett – what a ride it’s been! We don’t always agree, but we’ve got each other’s backs and I think it has translated pretty well onto the field.
Perhaps most importantly, without some pretty good players coming through to make me look smart, none of it works. From Mike Nelson (La Quinta ’92) and Don Casey (LQ ’93) who were my first All-CIF players, through Brad Hanson, Brian Hart, & Justin Speegle at Fountain Valley, along with a BUNCH of All League players. To Katrina Walter, Lela Vaeo, Christina Carrillo & Lindsay Hood, the first All Americans, and now to Jessica Cable and Eboni Chambers carrying it on. To Moses Everett, my first male All American. Those are just the OL, and I’m singling those out because, well – they deserve it. As an OC/HC there are a whole bunch of the “skinny people” who helped out as well – so many that I can’t possibly list them all, so won’t for fear of forgetting someone. But I appreciate you.
Finally, thank you to the sport of football. There is none else like it. No other tests physical and mental toughness the same way. No other depends on 33 different positions doing their job on each play, lest disaster strike or when they do their jobs, greatness ensues. So many life lessons have been taught and there are so many left to learn. Thank you…..