Gentleman and humble coach Dave Owens touched many lives

Published 11:14 pm Sunday, June 9, 2024

Veteran high school football and basketball coach Dave Owens retired at the end of the 2019-20 school year Joining the retirement celebration with Dave were his children, Jamie (left) and Michael (right). (Kent Sanborn/Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

When someone dies, all those who knew or knew of that person automatically start to talk about their accomplishments.

But in the case of Dave Owens, his death on Sunday ignited memories of him as a great person who loved his wife, Karen, his daughter Jamie and son Michael, his players, fellow coaches, parents, fans and anyone he came into contact with.

He was a very humble man who always deflected praise but was quick to praise others.

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Coach Owens not only coached at Coal Grove but was the head coach at Symmes Valley and Hannah Trace ·now known as South Gallia) and was an assistant at South Point.

He always inherited tough coaching situations but always met them with a positive attitude and loved all his players, students and coaches.

Coach Owens was laid off at the Nickel Plant in Huntington in 1970 and he had taken nine hours of classes at Marshall to see if he could go through college.

He had classes with some of the football players who were killed when the Marshall plane crashed in 1970.

“That touches your life every time you hear about it,” Owens said.

Owens piled on the hours and got through Marshall in three years. He was hired as the Hannan Trace head coach and he admitted he didn’t know much about football. Or so he said.

Hannah Trace played Ironton and Fairland jayvee teams and beat Fairland both times. One of the Fairland assistant coaches was Dave Lucas who was just beginning his coaching career.

After the second time Hannan Trace won, Lucas asked Owens if he would be interested in joining his staff when he got a head coaching job. Two years later, Lucas was hired at Coal Grove and Owens joined the staff and began a long-time relationship with Lucas that continued until Owens’ death.

“I learned a lot of football from Dave. I’ve learned a lot of football from Bob Lutz by just sitting around and talking with Bob. If you keep your eyes and ears open and read between the lines, you can learn a lot from these guys,” said Owens.

Owens became a good coach. Many of the players through the years spoke highly of him.

Owens was soft-spoken, but he could yell out a command or two when he was coaching. But his love for the players was always there and they knew it.

Owens was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer in 2010 and he fought it, but he said death never scared him because of his deep Christian faith in God.

“I know someday I’ll face that. I’m not afraid of death. I know there’s a reward there for me. I don’t want any rewards in this life or the next one. I’m thankful everything happened to me rather than my wife and my kids or any of my friends,” said Owens.

This is one time Dave Owens will get a reward because heaven is now his sidelines.


Jim Walker is the sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.