David Pressgrove: The road less traveled
If you know Mike LeWarne, you know how much basketball means to him.
That’s why, at first, the announcement of his resignation as the Moffat County boys head basketball coach this week made about as much sense as swimming in the Yampa River in March.
This was the same guy who, when he first found out his wife was carrying a girl, wouldn’t give up on the unlikely chance it could still be a boy.
This was the same guy who invited me over one night my second summer in Craig around 11 p.m. for burgers. His apartment was tucked away in an alley behind another house. It was a nice place for a bachelor pad.
He was a guy’s guy.
LeWarne also consistently hassled me about covering wrestling but would usually apologize about it the next day — even though, deep down, he really wanted me to write only about basketball.
Those were the traits that I associated with Mike LeWarne. To me, he was one who revels in being a guy, and one who loves basketball.
That’s why I doubted that anything would come from the locker room statements that he made after the last game of 2004-05. He told his players that he was going to take some time to think about coming back as coach.
There were two reasons that I was sure he’d be back on the sideline next year: He loves basketball too much, and next year’s team could have been the best in his four years.
But the phone conversation we had about his resignation changed my picture of LeWarne. As we talked, I fought for his attention because at times he was watching his daughter. Daddy coddled her in between questions.
“It’s alright buddy,” he said.
I could tell then that LeWarne’s preferred title is now Daddy instead of Coach.
That’s why I wrote “at first” the announcement didn’t make sense. It’s because at first I still associated LeWarne as the one who lived in Bachelorville on Basketball Lane. I didn’t know the LeWarne living in Familyville on Elizabeth (his daughter) and Alison (his wife) Lane.
The last two years transformed LeWarne.
He was married two summers ago and became a father in October.
During that time, he moved out of his apartment, renovated a house and traded in a truck for a Ford Taurus.
On Wednesday, he turned his whistle in for baby wipes.
His decision is one that some coaches admire and one that could have some hiding the newspaper.
The coaches that admire what LeWarne did think of the time they miss at home when they’re coaching.
The coaches hiding the newspaper are the ones who have taken the road that LeWarne didn’t. They accepted that, for a certain part of the year, they would have two families — one at home and one at school. They’re hiding the newspaper from a spouse because it might be grounds for a serious guilt trip.
This year, Moffat County wrestling coach Roman Gutierrez (sorry Mike, I can’t even write a column about you without mentioning wrestling) told a wrestler how an assistant once figured out that coaches get less than minimum wage per hour for the amount of time they put in during a season.
Nobody ever said that coaching at a high school level was for the love of money.
Actually, most coaches say it’s for the love of the game or the love of the kids.
LeWarne still has the love of the game and of the kids; it’s just that he can’t stay away from the one who has his last name.
“She’s just awesome, Dave,” he said.
I can accept that, and I think everybody else can, too.
Good luck, Dad.
I hope she doesn’t decide to wrestle.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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