Hard Not To Like These Coaches!

March 22, 2010 by  

In journalism school we’re taught not to play favorites. It’s a journalist’s job, we’re told, not get too attached to the people we’re dealing with, and we have to do everything in our power to try and remain impartial.

In the sports world, that primary directive can be difficult to adhere to, especially when it comes to coaches.

In dealing with the group of area coaches from the four local high schools, it’s hard not to like some more than others.

On the other hand, I realize that there are probably some area coaches who are not exactly fans of mine. I know that some only deal with me because they are told to “be nice to the media,” or they see it is a necessary evil in the course of their jobs.


That type of approach is fine for me, as long as we can all coexist and we remember that when it all comes down to it, it’s all about helping promote the young athletes.

Some coaches just make themselves more available, and along with being great people, they have an extra-special something that makes them stand out among their peers.

One of those coaches is Providence High Athletic Director Andrew Bencze. Bencze, who coaches the girls’ basketball team, has also guided the school’s boys’ and girls’ volleyball programs over the years.

I’ve known Bencze for more than a decade. I have come to trust him, and I believe he trusts me as well.

The other day I sat next to Bencze during a game and we shot the breeze for awhile. Our conversation covered everything from recruiting at other schools, to young athletes of today, to problems that smaller schools face to the difficulties we both have in the course of our jobs.

We talked in complete confidence, knowing that much of what we said would never get past that point. It’s that kind of candidness that makes Bencze one of my favorites.

Another coach I admire — for a completely different reason — is Burbank High boys’ and girls’ tennis and girls’ soccer Coach Loi Phan. Phan has an honesty and a no-nonsense approach to his job that is refreshing.

Being a former football coach — a head coach at Glendale and assistant at Burbank — Phan brings that football mind set to his tennis and soccer teams. If a player is late to a contest, mouths off or doesn’t give it his or her all, Phan has no problem sitting or suspending the athlete.

He has said to me many times that if his varsity players don’t want to follow the program and abide by the rules, he has no problem showing them the door. And as a result, if that means he has to play with all freshmen or junior-varsity players — and lose every contest — he will do it.

In an era in which many star athletes dictate to the coaches how things are going to be, instead of the other way around, Phan is a throwback to a time when discipline wasn’t always a bad word.

The other great thing about Phan is he is brutally honest. If he has a team that he thinks will have trouble competing, he’ll tell you so. Nothing is sugar coated with Phan.

One of the most gracious coaches is Bellarmine-Jefferson High’s Bryan Camacho. Camacho, who is the school’s athletic director, compounded his duties this season by taking on the head boys’ basketball position, adding to his obligations as the Guards girls’ basketball coach.

In covering Camacho’s teams, there has never a time when he doesn’t thank me for coming out. He is truly appreciative of the coverage and he will go out of his way to accommodate the media.

I covered his girls’ basketball team in a state tournament game last week. There were three of us from the media who interviewed Camacho after the game. Staying true to form, Camacho thanked all three of us individually.

In a job that definitely can have its negatives, being appreciated is something that means a great deal.

Two individuals I have a great deal of respect for are Burroughs High football Coach Keith Knoop and Burbank High baseball Coach Bob Hart.

Although I will admit I’m not exactly buddy-buddy with either man, the way both have dealt with their jobs and the members of the media over the years is commendable.

I have seen both coaches suffer their share of tough losses. However, without fail, Knoop and Hart have never blown me off after one of those particularly difficult losses. Instead, they have taken the time to talk to me and give me what I need for my story.

I can’t say the same for some other coaches in the city.

By far, these aren’t the only good coaches at the four area high schools. There are plenty of others who do a tremendous job despite many challenges.

I’ve always said that one of the toughest — and most thankless — professions is that of a youth or high school coach. And when I come across individuals like these who are truly good people, it makes my job that much more enjoyable.

Jeff Tully

Thanks for stopping by, we would appreciate your thoughts, why not leave us a comment?


Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!