Goodbye, Coach

Posted: October 10, 2008 by jgrantmarshall in school, sports, travel
Tags: ,

I got the news last Saturday that my high school football coach, Howard Johnson, had been killed on Friday night.  He was on his way to watch the season’s first league football game when another vehicle lost control and smashed into his driver’s side door.  I have been trying, since then, to come up with the words to put down on this blog but I have not yet found the right things to say.

I suppose I am mostly saddened that the world has lost a hero.

I did not know Coach beyond the field, but from my vantage he was the real deal.  I suppose, then, that the best thing I can do is to share with you my memories of Coach Johnson, so that you can share with me this loss.

Coach was big on respect.  It was strongly recommended to wear a shirt and tie on game day… even if it was going to be a two hour road trip to Eugene.  Hats were not worn sideways and pants were pulled up.  He also re-inforced the respect needed between team mates, coaches and those around us.

Coach was a religious man and without being pushy about it, shared it with us.  As a team, we prayed before and after games, real prayers and not moments of silence.

Coach was generous.  On Monday nights, he and his family opened their home to us to get together and eat spaghetti and watch Monday Night Football.  I am lucky enough to have a great family of my own, but I would imagine  that for many of my team mates this was their only look into what a real family is like.

Coach was a man who walked it like he talked it and therefore is a hero in my eyes.  I am sure his passing has touched many more than he would have expected.  And I am also sure that I am not alone in tearing up with the thought that he has left this world on his way to watch his North Bend Bulldogs, that he coached for over 20 years, beat Sutherlin.

Goodbye, Coach.  Thank you!

(If you’re interested in reading more, here is a link to the local newspaper report.)

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