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Commentary: Calm, low-emotion approach works for Reed's Howren
by Dan Eckles
Apr 05, 2013 | 4720 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Reed coach Ernie Howren is all business on the gridiron, but away from it, he offers a simple, low-drama outlook on many issues.
Tribune file photo - Reed coach Ernie Howren is all business on the gridiron, but away from it, he offers a simple, low-drama outlook on many issues.
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The Washoe County School District's new calendar for the 2013-14 school year is going to wreak havoc on the high school football schedule, if not the entire athletic calendar across the Truckee Meadows.

The new WCSD calendar calls for classes to begin Aug. 12. That's two weeks earlier than normal. It will wipe out two-a-day preseason practices for fall sports, specifically football. The new calendar has a week-long fall break, much like has traditionally been the case in the spring, and a three-week Christmas break. Still, the prep sports calendar continues.

"We had a freshmen orientation this week and we spent most of it answering questions and explaining to parents, 'don't plan vacations during those breaks," Reed High athletic director Ron Coombs said. "Activities will still go on."

Most high school football coaches in the region are up in arms and venting their frustration over the loss of double-day workouts, saying they will lose nearly half of their prep time prior to a season opener Aug. 30.

And then there is Reed football coach Ernie Howren. The Raiders' veteran gridiron guru never shows his frustration with off-field issues, even when he's frustrated. And unlike his coaching counterparts in the Truckee Meadows, he doesn't seem to be too upset with the loss of two-a-day practices.

"I honestly don't share or feel the same feelings of many of the local coaches," Howren said. "I don't think it's going to be as big of an issue as some other coaches feel it will be. At Reed, we really feel like we will adjust. We're going to make it work. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal to us."

To me, that says a lot because if anyone's got reason to gripe about losing preseason prep time, it's Reed. The Raiders always play arguably the toughest non-league schedule around.

Last fall, Reed kicked off its season with back-to-back road games at California powers James Logan and Foothill. The Raiders started 1-3 before ripping off nine straight wins.

In recent years, Reed has played a handful of perennial championship programs from California, and often on the road. Those include Granite Bay, twice, Oceanside and Rocklin.

This upcoming season, Reed begins its fall campaign with Foothill, which will make the trek to Sparks from Redding after Reed travelled last fall. Again, Reed will do that without the luxury of the double-day workouts Foothill will have had.

Still, Howren isn't crying in his soup or crying foul to anyone who will listen. Reed runs its summer program, which features weight lifting and non-contact drills. It will compete in a full-contact camp one week. Largely, for these reasons, Howren believes any effects from the loss of a few preseason practices will be minimal, if noticeable at all.

"We believe in the system we're running," he said. "We'll adjust our schedule to the new (class) start times. It's not going to be as different as everyone is making it sound.

"Let's face it. Double days have been going in a different direction the last few years. Research over heat acclimation and concerns over proper hydration have all factored into changes on how we do double days compared to 15-20 years ago."

It seems like whenever I ask Howren questions about off-field issues and policies, I get the same response. "We'll adjust. We're all playing by the same rules. There's no sense in complaining about it because that won't change anything."

That's about how it goes.

Then I look at Reed's success on the football field since the 2003-04 season. It's unmatched in northern Nevada. The Raiders are the winningest large school program in the North in that span, all with Howren at the helm. Reed has won four regional crowns in that nine-year span while no other school has won more than two.

It's not madness Howren works under. I'm starting to think there's a method to his simplified outlook. And it's not just that Howren is an easy-going, low-key guy. I've been on the sideline during an RHS game, there's plenty of intensity there.

Still, he gets the big picture. He doesn't sweat the small stuff. His program works hard to be the best at what it can control.

There are certainly more than a few maps to success. Howren doesn't have a trademark on those. But his approach works and more than a few local coaches could take a page or two out of his book.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune's long-time sports editor and current managing editor. You can reach him at: deckles@dailysparkstribune.com

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