SPRINGVILLE - When you’ve won as many matches as Springville volleyball coach Claude Howard has over the years, it’s easy to forget exactly how many victories you’ve piled up.
Howard isn’t into individual accolades, he’s about winning conference championships and earning state tournament berths, both of which his teams have accomplished numerous times over the years.
So, when his 200th career coaching win, which came earlier this season in Monticello (Sept. 5) where his Orioles were competing at the annual Midland tournament, came and went exactly has he had hoped.
Without any fanfare. But not for long.
Word leaked out when some parents cleverly did the math, and they decided 200 was just too many not to be recognized.
“I honestly only realized it this season when I had to look back in my season archives to do the prospectus this fall,” said Howard, who now has 200 career coaching wins, and counting after another perfect week of Oriole volleyball that also included yet another tournament title Saturday, Sept. 26.
“I keep track of the accomplishments of the program, so that each year I can help the kids understand the importance of the hard work it takes to uphold the tradition of success in the Oriole volleyball program.”
And Howard has had a lot of success, and was recognized for his accomplishments and what he means to the Springville program with a short ceremony Tuesday, Sept. 29.
“I truly put the wins on the kids,” Howard said. “I’ve been coaching 18 years total, and this is my eighth season as head coach at Springville, and I still have not played in one match all these years.
“So, it’s the kids that deserve the honor. They buy into the program philosophy and work hard to be the best they can be each season. So, really what 200 wins means to me is that I have done a decent job convincing these kids over the years that their individual and team successes are work. It means there is a level of pride that comes with being an Oriole volleyball player, and the kids want to maintain the respect they have earned. It means I have great support from my staff each season to help me focus on the things I need to do to keep it going. The support I get from my wife Tiel, also an assistant coach, other assistants and former players, is a tremendous help to keep this program going.”
But coaches don’t accumulate 200 wins without being blessed with some amazing volleyball knowledge, which Howard has shared with his players and staff each and every season.
“Ultimately, I love coaching kids and have a passion for coaching volleyball,” he said. “I tell our team the ‘wins’ are not as important to me as making sure these young women grow up in our program to be stronger people than when they entered. That they grow as individuals and have the support they need to be successful beyond the program.
“I believe if the culture is positive and strong, these kids will want to work for themselves and their team to be the best they can be. If that holds true, the wins will come.”
That has held true, and the wins have come, and are continuing to come.