Coaches Spotlight... Remembering some Hired Coaches from Yesteryear

Updated: Jun 29

By John Ring

Published June 3, 2021 in The Burg


In a few weeks, we should know who the new coaches are for both the Silver Streak football and boys basketball programs.

The timing isn’t ideal. But the process has to play its way out and hopefully, Athletic Director Eric Matthews will be able to make a couple of solid recommendations to the District School Board.

They’re important decisions., Very important. Think of your favorite sports team. The hiring of a new coach/manager is either sink or swim. No matter who we pull for, we all have horror stories

about bad choices.

I’m a Bengals fan. After Paul Brown retired as a coach, Cincinnati had two choices for their next

coach: Bill “Tiger” Johnson or Bill Walsh. Both were assistant coaches under Brown. The

Bengals went with Tiger. Walsh went to the San Francisco 49ers as their head coach. The rest,

as they say, is history.

Some Cub fans remember Lee Elia, who blasted them for being unemployed bums who came

to the park to boo his players. (I cleaned up the language for that one.) And I’m sure Cardinal

fans remember the immortal Vern Rapp, too.

So yes, this is a big deal for Silver Streak fans. The facts are simple. GHS has a declining

enrollment and the Silver Streaks are in a powerful, competitive conference. The Western Big 6

(actually, now 8) is one of the best in the State.

And, in the past, there have been good hires, great hires and some that didn’t quite work out.

One of them was Mike Hoskins. Mike was a good guy and was hired when the football program was struggling. He came down to Galesburg by himself and lived in the coaches office out by

Van Dyke Field. I could always catch him at Sully’s on Walleye Night.

During a Week 4 loss, he came up to the press box during the game and watched the second half. No one bothered him or asked why he was there. But he would, from time to time, shoot up there and watch the game.

It was a long season and a winless one at that. The Streaks were 0-9.

When Mike Robson was Athletic Director, he hired a football coach from a St. Louis suburb. All it took was one trip to Galesburg and a view of the football facilities and that coach was long gone. He never returned my phone calls.

One coach who I respected a lot was Brian Dennison. Brian got the Streaks back to

respectability after the brief Hoskins Era and had a couple teams close to the .500 mark. The Streaks never came closer to the playoffs but Brian worked hard and was always pleasant to talk to. I was saddened to see that Brian passed away last year back at his home in Aledo.

The press conference announcing Mike Miller as the new Streaks basketball coach in 1999 was more like that of a rock star announcing a tour. Mike was young, smart and press savvy. Local sprtswriters who had been shunned by the previous coaching regime welcomed him with open arms. Mike understood he was coming from Rockford to a town with two radio stations and two newspapers wanting to cover his team.

And I hated to see Mike Washabaugh leave.

Coach Wash was always accessible and good to talk to. He put a lot of hard work for the football program here in Galesburg. He also spoiled us sportswriters rotten with the detailed statistics that were sent out Saturday mornings. I’d love to see him return to the sidelines as a coach.

So with all that said—good luck Eric.

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