Still in the Game
06/25/2014 12:00AM ● Published by Enjoy Magazine
Nor-Cal Retired Coaches Association
The retired coaches had a good time over breakfast. They enjoyed each other’s company and shared a lot of memories. But it didn’t take long before someone had to say it: “Why don’t we do something?”
These are, after all, men and women of action.
“Maybe we all have too much energy,” explains former Shasta High football coach Lon McCasland.
What started as breakfast at the Snack Shack last summer has evolved into a 30-member strong organization called the Nor-Cal Retired Coaches Association. The group is raising money to provide scholarships for high school athletes who may or may not go on to play college sports. The retired coaches are also offering their expertise to administrators and school districts regarding all aspects of coaching.
The key motivation for the group is to help young people and pass along their combined knowledge.
“It’s a natural that we’d want to do something positive,” says McCasland, the group’s president and a coach for three decades between Berkeley, Nova and Shasta high schools. “We’ve tried to do that all our lives.”
The group will host a fundraising golf tournament on July 28 at Riverview Golf and Country Club in Redding. Between special events and sponsorships, the coaches hope to raise enough money to fund multiple scholarships annually. Their motto is “Still in the Game.”
“There are coaches throughout the county who still enjoy being a part of kids’ lives,” said Chuck Crawford, a longtime basketball coach at Shasta High. “The desire to help kids doesn’t just end when you stop coaching. A lot of us are friends and we didn’t want those friendships to go away. But we also want to be of service to kids. It’s in our blood, I guess. I don’t know if there’s another group like this in the universe.”
The group, which is open to coaches of all variety from Shasta, Tehama, Trinity and Siskiyou counties, includes a host of well-known names in the far Northern California coaching scene. In addition to McCasland, longtime Enterprise High football coach Clay Erro is in the group, as well as former Central Valley High coach Bob Johnson. Add up the time between the 30 coaches who have signed on thus far and it’s literally hundreds of years of experience.
“It’s never really been about one person or one coach or one program,” said Erro, who retired from Enterprise last year after 37 years of coaching. “I think it’s about the joy we’ve all received from working with kids in team sports. It builds a lot of the skills they’re going to need as adults.”
Erro, who continues to help as a walk-on coach at Enterprise, says the new organization seems headed in a great direction in terms of its commitment to helping students and the next generation of coaches.
“It’s for any and all coaches who are interested in continuing to be involved in helping young people,” Erro says. “Coaching is more than just teaching physical skills. You have the opportunity to be a positive role model in a young person’s life. That desire doesn’t go away.”
Several of the coaches worked together at the former Nova High for ninth-grade students in Shasta County. McCasland said the experience was invaluable for forming friendship bonds that have lasted decades. Whether they coached with or against each other, however, the group’s members tended to retain a fondness and respect for each other off the field.
“When we were involved, we wanted to beat the brains out of the competitor, but after the game we’d still want to have a beer with each other,” says McCasland. “We’re all real close. The competition is out of the picture now. It’s not ‘what’s in it for me.’ It’s ‘what can we do to help somebody else.’ We have a lot of expertise. Maybe we can help with some of the dos and don’ts of coaching.”
The 37th Lions All-Star Football Committee will be dedicating this year’s game, held at Shasta College on July 19, to the members of the Nor-Cal Retired Coaches Association for all they have done and all they will do.
Nor-Cal Retired Coaches Association golf tournament
9 am July 28, Riverview Golf and Country Club