Friday, February 19, 2010

Coach’s message is beyond words

Friday, February 19, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.

K.C. Alfred / Union-Tribune
Howie Hawver continues to pursue his duties as soccer coach at Patrick Henry High despite being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2008.
Howie Hawver has not lost his sense of humor.
After his Patrick Henry High girls soccer team won its ninth straight Eastern League title yesterday, beating visiting Morse 8-0, the longtime coach was asked how special No. 9 is.
The 48-year-old Hawver smiled, then replied: “It’s my favourite number.”
Hawver is unable to speak yet his words were delivered with a perfect British accent. He also spelled it the UK way — with the “u” — with the assistance of his high-tech DynaVox Max voice aide computer, controlled by small movements he makes with the side of his right knee. The monitor is mounted on his motorized wheelchair, which was donated by Shay Realty of Del Mar.
Hawver, who has helped hundreds of girls earn college scholarships as a coach — from the youth ranks to a 15-year-stint at Grossmont College, where he amassed more than 200 victories — was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2008. It’s an incurable neurodegenerative disease more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The one-time Helix High soccer standout — whose memory is sharp, whose knowledge of the technical side of soccer is widely respected and whose wit is intact — has been in a wheelchair since last fall.
“I love that chair,” said Hawver’s father, Howard, who estimated its worth at $40,000. “He starts at 10 in the morning putting in the computer what he wants to say to the team later that day. At the last game against (league foe) Mira Mesa, he (wrote), ‘As athletes, this is the kind of game you live for.’ I love that the chair gives him a voice.”
The elder Hawver noted his son’s place of birth — Germany — then added, laughing, “I just don’t like that British accent.”
Laughter doesn’t come as often as it once did to Howard Hawver or to Howie’s younger sister, Michelle, who said she was close to Howie when they were kids before the two drifted apart for many years.
Now Michelle regularly makes the trek from Menifee in Riverside County, staying with Howie and his wife, Lianne, in their San Carlos home three days a week.
Howard, Michelle and Lianne work together as caregivers, chauffeurs and chefs to make sure Howie gets where he needs to go and has what he needs.
The Patriots were able to bring home what their coach needed against the overmatched Tigers. Amanda Howard led the charge with four goals for Patrick Henry (11-2-4, 9-1-2). Ciera Robillard notched the shutout.
“The (title) is a great tribute to Howie,” said first-year assistant coach Jason Aldous. “He’s so inspiring to us, full of spirit and desire. He doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him. It’s all about the girls, and they know that.”
After the game, the team headed to nearby Mountain Mike’s Pizza for a fundraiser for Hawver as he continues his fight against ALS.
The victory was a fitting way to end the regular season, Hawver’s final year as the team’s head coach.
“Since it’s his last year coaching us, we all said, ‘Let’s do it for Howie,’ ” said defender Sydney Blackman, a four-year varsity member and team captain. “He keeps us going and we keep him going. He keeps us playing to our fullest and best. We dedicated this season to Howie. We’re trying to go all the way.”

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February 18 Fundraiser for Howie Hawver

Mountain Mike's Pizza in San Carlos has partnered with Patrick Henry Lady Patriot's Soccer for a fund raiser for Coach Howie on February 18 after their last regular season game. Mention the fundraiser or print the flyer found at this link.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amazing Race Champs Honor Hawver

From XKSoccer San Diego
By: Michael Bower

SD Spirit Coach and Director of Soccer Operations Howie Hawver was honored by The Amazing Race champions Meghan Rickey and Cheyne Whitney as the two Patrick Henry HS alums wore red “Fight ALS” wristbands all the way to the finish line.

Rickey (SD Surf/Patrick Henry HS) is a coach for the Poway Vaqueros. Hawver, who formerly coached Rickey at Patrick Henry, was diagnosed with with ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in December 2008. Hawver was the biggest fan of jet-setting duo, as he watched the two explore the world and win a million dollars.

XK: What was your first reaction when you seen the two had won the million dollars? Howie

Hawver: Obviously, I was excited to see them come running in first with those huge smiles on their faces. I was proud of them but not surprised. They're gamers, they always knew how to bring out their best when they need to. They really did when they counted the chips.

XK: How often did you watch and track how they were doing on the Amazing Race?

HH: My wife, Lianne and I watched every week at her family's Sunday dinners. After a couple of weeks, most of her family was pulling for them too.

XK: Did you contact Meghan at all since the win or did she contact you?

HH: No, she is too famous now. Just kidding. I plan to but emailing takes me awhile. I do want to tell her I am proud of her and Cheyne.

XK: How much did it mean to have them honor you with the wrist bands the way they did?

HH: It's the ultimate reward for a coach or teacher when a former student says you had a positive effect on me. For them to do that in that way on national television made it even more special. If it helped increase awareness of ALS, then their gesture takes on an even greater meaning. Yes, I felt honored that they wore them.

XK: What did you enjoy most about watching the two during the show?

HH: I thought they displayed outstanding character. They had a great balance of support, encouragement and enjoyment. They helped each other through their frustrations but were not afraid to get under each others skin. They did it just enough to motivate each other through the next challenge.

XK: Any other thoughts about the two?

HH: I am sure Meghan will use her race experience to motivate her players. I look forward to hearing more in a week when we see her at the alumni game, that is, unless her and Cheyne are planning a return trip to Dubai for Christmas.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Grossmont College Coach Hawver collects 200th win

EL CAJON – Entering his 15th year at the helm of the Grossmont program, one of Coach Howard Hawver’s goals was to see the team reach 200 wins. This accomplishment came on Friday, September 25, 2009, as the lady Griffins defeated Palomar College by a score of 1-0. As fate would have it the deciding goal came from a 40 yard blast from Jenna Sanders, a player that Hawver coached when she was a youth.

For Hawver, the only coach Grossmont has known, win number 200 is part of an astounding overall record of 200-58-30. Under Hawver, Grossmont teams have won the PCC Championship five times and reached the Southern California playoffs 14 out of 20 years. When asked what this means to him, Hawver replied, “It’s a great honor if you’re looking back, but more important, it is this team’s third win of the year.”

Hawver is the longest tenured Community College Coach in San Diego County. When asked what keeps him going, Hawver said, “Number one, God, who gives me the strength to continue everyday. Two, my wife and family, who support me every step of the way, and three, the incredible staff at Grossmont who do everything to keep me on the field.”

Hawver also added, “I have had the pleasure of working for three incredible athletic directors; Felix Rogers, who hired me, Bobby Thompson, who helped re-motivate me, and James Spillers, who doesn’t know the word “no”, with him it was always “yes”. Spillers is very positive.”
When asked what is next, Hawver replied in typical fashion, “We have another game Wednesday and we hope to compete for the conference (championship) and reach the playoffs once again.” In other words, the focus is on the team now.

Reprinted from Grossmont College website.

The Grossmont team currently stands at 4-1 near the top of the PCC Standings.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Howie Named 2008-09 CIF Coach of the Year

On Tuesday, October 27, 2009, the San Diego CIF Board of Managers will honor our very own Howie Hawver as the 2008-2009 CIFSD Girls' Soccer Coach of the Year for his work with the Patrick Henry High School soccer teams. The presentation will be at the San Diego County Office of Education, 6401 Linda Vista Road, Room 401, San Diego 92111. This is an honor long overdue. In the 11 years that Howie has coached the Lady Patriots, he has amassed some pretty amazing accomplishments:

CIF playoffs in all 11 years of coaching
Eastern League Champions 8 years in a row (still continuing)
Eastern League Champion in 9 of 11 years (in other two years, second place)
Produced 9 Eastern League Players of the Year
PHHS Record of 176-34-32 (Most wins in PHHS History)
PHHS winning percentage of 79% (Highest in PHHS history)
Eastern League Record of 111-6-11 (89% winning percentage)
Produced over 25 players that went on to play Collegiate Soccer

Congratulations Howie!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Howie Named Among Most Influential in San Diego Soccer Community

Howie Hawver was tabbed # 11 in XKSoccer's review of San Diego's 50 Most Influential People in the San Diego Soccer Community. The poll noted:

11. Howie Hawver: The San Diego Spirit director of soccer operations monopolized the headlines this year. The majority of the community was outraged when CSC San Diego cut ties with the coach who learned he had Lou Gehrig's disease in December 2008. The Crusaders opted for a one-director program, which ended up working out better for Hawver, who was always told he should have his own club. He finally has that with the upstart Spirit. With Hawver's diagnosis public, the community rallied around the coach who spent the past 15 years developing the Grossmont College women's soccer program, and the better part of the decade making Patrick Henry HS a perpetual CIF playoff contender.

For the entire list, see

Congratulations Howie!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spirit Shines at Friends of Howie Day

Friends of Howie Hawver Day on June 13 raised more than $3,000 for long-time San Diego coach Howie Hawver, who is living with ALS (otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease). The event was held at the North County Soccer Park in Poway, and included indoor and outdoor games for all ages. Hawver had a great day seeing his friends; the kids had a awesome time in the jumpy and face-painting booth; and there was lots of soccer to be had.