Monday, September 8, 2008

Don Haskins, The Bear, is at Peace

Don Haskins, former basketball coach for the UTEP Miners has passed away. He was an El Paso legend, an icon and a true character.

Don Haskins was basketball coach for the Texas Western (now UTEP) 1966 NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Championship team, making headlines for having the first all African American starting lineup in the country. He made history and took El Paso along for the ride.

My daughter Lily came home from work yesterday afternoon at 5pm and the first words out of her mouth were, “Mom, coach died.” “What?” She gets news updates on her cell phone and she had just received one from the El Paso Times saying that Coach Haskins had passed away at 4:30 pm (Sunday, September 7th) due to heart failure.

I checked online and the news was so new that it hadn’t been posted yet. But Bob, being elated about the Cowboys win over the Browns, decided to watch the local news and sure enough, during the sports segment, the story broke.

We were all rather quiet for a while trying to absorb the news we’d just received.

Coach touched many lives. Ours was no different. Bob used to do the Don Haskins coach’s show. My husband is Program and Video Production Manager in our city’s cable company. So his involvement in UTEP Athletics has been a constant in our lives for many, many years now. My unrelenting complaint about being a sports widow because of all the sports programs he does at all different hours and days between August and March remained unspoken. I kept thinking of Coach’s lovely wife, Mary. A sweet and pleasant Southern Belle who was probably the only one to tame “The Bear”, as Coach Haskins was affectionately referred to.

We are a UTEP household. I attended UTEP, Bob and my son Michael graduated from there and now our daughter is attending her second year at the university working towards her Social Work degree.

I got to know Steve, one of Coach’s sons and his enchanting wife Carmen. She and I worked together for a number of years. Another Southern Belle, sweet and gracious as any lady from the South. But don’t get her dander up, she’ll put you right back in your place. My kind of gal.

We’ll miss you coach. Though you never really enjoyed the notoriety and being in the public eye, your fans held you in the highest regard. We hope you and Bobby Joe are shooting a few hoops up there.

Glory Road, starring Josh Lucas as Don Haskins, is a movie that was released in 2006. The movie is about Coach’s life and the events leading up to the NCAA Championship in 1966. If you haven’t seen it and are a sports or history fan, be sure and watch it.


Ivy said...

I am so sorry to hear about this.

Adam said...

That's too bad. It's always sad to see such a long time sports legend go. I am a sports fan, so I'll have to look into that movie.

Jenn said...

Mom called and told us Sunday night, or else we'd never have known.

Saturday night was awful - what was going on? Mom said that people are starting to call for Price's resignation (As an aside, what's wrong with him? He looks sick.), which is so stupid. Two good years and everyone's spoiled. We have a history of a horrid football team. We were happy to see that ESPN had nothing but nice things to say about the city/stadium.

Prudy said...

Would you believe I just watched the movie last week? I got it from netflix and still have the movie because I wanted my husband to watch it also. He was so inspiring and way ahead of his time. A legend.

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Michele said...

That is so sad about Couch Haskins! He was a great man.
It wouldn't have taken much for your Cowboys to beat the Browns...they have been pathetic for years! I'm a Cleveland girl and even I hate them. I'm a Lions fan! LOL
If you get the chance sweetie...could you e-mail me? I need a small favor. :-) (don't's nothing serious)