Coachs biggest rival: stress
- Pamplin Media
- Portland Tribune - Sports
When Oregon State coach Jay John experienced chest pains and shortness of breath last week in Seattle, his peers took note.
Portland State's Heath Schroyer, a poster boy for hard-driving and intense head coaches, says, 'It's a wake-up call for every coach' Ñ including himself. Schroyer, who turns 33 in March, already works out most mornings and eats well, having lost 25 pounds in the past year on a mostly protein diet.
But he also drinks too much coffee and not enough water, 'and I don't think you can do anything about the stress or pressure.'
Schroyer adds: 'If you don't sleep enough, you don't eat right or exercise enough and with the stress É I'm surprised it hasn't happened to more people.'
John, 46, has been treated for hypertension, or high blood pressure, which he has had for some time. He is likely to sit out both OSU games this week.
'Jay's a fighter, but he's going to have to stop coffee, candy and Diet Cokes,' says assistant Kevin Mouton, his stand-in this week. Mouton doesn't mean John should resist such temptations all the time, but, he says, 'My wife's a doctor and she told me when people go through similar situations, you have to change your diet, and those are some of the easy things you have to do.'
Oregon's Ernie Kent, an avid racewalker, gets in a walk every morning. 'It's a great stress relief for me,' says Kent, who turns 50 on Saturday. 'And I watch what I eat. I'm not a guy who drinks, except maybe a little red wine at dinner. I take time out, I step away. I feel like I'm a better coach when I keep my health. I am a workaholic Ñ don't sleep much Ñ but I try to do some things that balance all that out.'
Portland's Michael Holton, 43, played six years in the NBA, after playing under the microscope at UCLA. He also was an assistant coach at UCLA. But he says nothing compares to the pressure of being a head coach.
He understands what John went through: The night John went to the hospital, Washington went on a 30-2 run against OSU. At Santa Clara two weeks ago, the Pilots suffered through a similar 21-2 run.
'I felt the weight of that experience,' Holton says. 'I don't know if my blood pressure went up, or what the physiology of it was, but I was like, 'Wow.' You quickly go to 'What can we do?' É while also knowing that a 19-point play is not a reality.'
Holton, a calm and collected coach by appearance, says, 'I work out and stay spiritually grounded, stay connected with my family and church' to combat stress.
Schroyer says Internet chat, media and fans put added pressure on college coaches today.
And coaches innately feel they are the patriarchs of the program.
'You spend all your time worrying about your program, players and staff,' Schroyer says. 'The last person you worry about is yourself.'
Benson grad Kevyn Green, who left Nevada and landed at Portland State, has left the Vikings after enrolling in school earlier this month. Schroyer says it was a mutual decision, and he feels Green 'just didn't want to play ball.' É Arizona's Salim Stoudamire leads the country in 3-point accuracy (.562, 50 of 89). É It's tough times at Cascade College, where women's coach and Athletic Director Gerry Nixon suspended several players for violation of team rules and had to forfeit three consecutive games because the Thunderbirds lacked enough eligible players. With players reinstated Ñ and 10 playing Tuesday Ñ Cascade lost to Evergreen 59-39. Leading scorer Shara Brazzle has been released, Nixon says. É The Lewis & Clark men have some Portland Interscholastic League flavor in the form of guard Mark Robinowitz, Lincoln; guard Thomas Tillery, Benson; forward Sean Brannon, Benson; and guard Jeff Christensen, Wilson. Robinowitz and Tillery play a lot. Robinowitz had 24 points against Pacific, hitting 6 of 13 3-pointers. He's shooting .427 from 3-point range, 40th in NCAA Division III. The Pioneers rank sixth in the country, averaging 11.1 3-pointers per game.