Everyone at Edison knew Coach Haney. He was the Head Coach of a successful basketball program, and as I recall he was an Assistant JV Football Coach.

Football was my sport, by default, because I sucked at everything else. After football season ended, the “6th hour boys” were expected to at least make an effort to try out for a winter sport. Swimming? Get real. Wrestling? I feared getting my ass kicked by a real wrestler. And I’d never played basketball. I searched frantically for alternatives.

One morning before school I caught Coach Haney and asked if he needed any basketball trainers. Mike Hollifield and David Pitcher were already varsity trainers, but Coach Haney said I could help out with the junior varsity team.

Through that experience, I learned Life Skills like counting towels, sweeping floors, keeping a basketball scorebook, and running the electronic scoreboard. I also became Edison’s King of Popcorn, which we sold at basketball games and wrestling matches. Fifteen cents a bag. The worst part of the job was the dad jokes: “Eating up all the profits, eh?”

One afternoon Coach Haney was in a bind; he needed someone to keep score at a tournament game. I couldn’t, but to my amazement I found a volunteer within a few minutes. I can still remember Coach Haney’s response when I told him: “You’re a good man, Maley! I’m going to give you a varsity letter!” And he did. Not a huge deal in the scheme of things, but his small gesture made an impact on me, one that I remember 50 years later.

Coach Haney was, what, 5’3″ in slippers? But he was a giant in terms of his impact on the lives of young men.