Gallagher column: Young's heart attack a reality check to Rowan coaches
SALISBURY — The stress of a football coach is difficult for the average Joe to fathom.
“They say stress is a factor in everything,” West Rowan coach Scott Young said Tuesday afternoon from his hospital bed at Rowan Regional Medical Center.
The average Joe thinks Young shouldn’t feel any stress. His Falcons have won three straight state titles and is on the verge of an eighth straight conference championship.
You want stress? Become a high school football coach. Young doesn’t just bark orders and talk to the media. He does a little of everything, from calling plays to washing uniforms.
He’s a father figure to over 100 teenagers. He worries about their lives, not just their grades. Many people don’t know the story of him coming to school early every morning so one of his players, who was practically homeless, could take a shower while he washed the kid’s clothes.
There’s parent meetings. Sunday coaches meetings. Speaking engagements. There are concerns over injuries and correcting mistakes. There is film to watch. There’s county streaks, conference streaks, national streaks. Winning and losing games can be the most stressful of all.
And let’s not forget a coach has a family that he has to fit in. Young and wife Diane have three neat children and when he’s not on the West field, he’s at his kids’ ballfields coaching.
So while a coach worries about keeping everyone else happy, he sometimes forgets to worry about himself.
Young’s heart attack on Tuesday made the other coaches in Rowan County take notice.
“It’s a reality check for all of us,” said Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan.
That’s why Pinyan, South Rowan’s Jason Rollins and Carson’s Mark Woody got in touch with Young as soon as they heard.
“It scared me,” Woody said in almost a whisper. “It puts a different feeling in me. It bothers me. It really does.”
Young has the respect of all the coaches in the county. His teams haven’t lost to any of them since 2001 but he has never been accused of running up the score, which he could have done.
When Rollins got in touch with Young, he said it was typical ol’ Scott.
“He was very upbeat,” Rollins said. “He said, ‘You go out there and take care of Statesville.’ ”
Rollins was informed by South principal Don Knox that the 40-year-old Young was in the hospital.
“It scared me,” Rollins admitted. “We’re only about a year apart, age-wise. I was stunned.”
Pinyan’s assistants were all anxious to hear some good news at practice. Same thing at Carson and West.
“I told Scott I think the world of him,” Woody said. “I texted his wife to let him know we’re thinking about him.”
Rollins said he was sure West would play well Friday with or without Young.
“His kids will take care of things,” Rollins said. “He’s got a coaching staff that will do fine. He has coached them up, too.”
As far as the job, the other county leaders are no different from Young. Woody became emotional when a Cougar lineman went down with an injury. Once, against East Davidson, Pinyan realized Golden Eagles coach Bryan Lingerfelt had an autistic kid in the game. He called a timeout and told his players to back off and let him catch a pass. Rollins has given players rides. All coaches have bought shoes for kids at one time or another.
The average Joe never knows this because the coaches don’t brag about it. They just do it for the love of the game and love of their kids.
“It’s the only job that most of us can do — and we enjoy doing it,” Pinyan said. “But sometimes you forget you’re supposed to take care of yourself. The Good Lord doesn’t promise you another game. I texted Scott, ‘Take care of yourself. This profession doesn’t need to lose a good one.’ ”
West and Salisbury have waged some of the county’s best battles over the past few years, but when something like this happens, coaches rally around each other.
“Everybody thinks we hate each other because we coach against each other,” Pinyan said. “But I have the utmost respect for Coach Young. He’s a great guy. Our staff hopes for a full recovery.”
Expect it. One thing about winners, they don’t stay down long. Scott Young has had plenty of success. The wins have come at a rapid pace.
Expect him to win this battle, too.
Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287.