I am a business education instructor at Walla Walla High School, the radio play-by-play announcer for Wa-Hi football and an avid supporter of Wa-Hi athletics. In these multiple roles, I am afforded access to the football program on a daily basis during the fall probably more than any other outsider. I believe this provides me with accurate insight as to the pulse and direction of the program as a whole.
This last May, after coach Hamlin resigned as the new football coach at Wa-Hi for personal reasons, the emotions surrounding the football program sank to an all-time low.
In the midst of this darkness, coach Mike Gobel was asked to step in as the new head coach. He did this not because he was a "last resort," but because he was the most dedicated coach remaining on the staff with the energy and passion to make it happen.
What I witnessed between coach Gobel's hiring in May and the beginning of the football season was truly miraculous. Players and students alike were talking about football around campus, and were excited for the season to start.
On the first day of school, several kids turned out late for football after hearing from their friends how much fun they were having. Coach Gobel's philosophy was simple: Work hard each day, have fun and get better each week.
In today's high-stakes world of professional and college athletics, it is easy to get caught up in measuring everything on the yardstick of wins and losses. An uninformed outsider might look at Wa-Hi's 2-7 season record as a failure, but I witnessed so much more than that.
Whether or not coach Gobel decides to continue on as head coach, the legacy he leaves behind from this season is the amazing job he did in restoring genuine confidence and excitement in the football program in a very short period of time. Twenty years from now, that is the enduring memory that will remain in my mind from the 2010 football season.
Scott E. Reardon