TAMPA — It was a testament to longevity and dedication Saturday night.
At the 25th annual Hillsborough County Coach Foundation Dinner and Dance sponsored by the George M. Steinbrenner Family at the Hilton in downtown Tampa, more than 1,100 high school coaches and athletic department personnel from county schools, both public and private were received a simple “thank you” for contributing to high school sports.
But it was the coaches with decades of experience, the veterans, who stole the night. During the prize drawing portion, one by one, they had their names called, leading to standing ovations. There was 38-year Chamberlain High softball coaching veteran Bob Diez, Chamberlain flag football coach Harry Hubbard, who has spent 38 years coaching football, Steinbrenner baseball coach John Crumbly, a 32-year veteran, Seffner Christian football coach Steve Lewis, who also put in 38 years of work, and last but not least, Hillsborough High football coach Earl Garcia, who owns the longest active coaching career in the county at 40 years.
“I’ve seen the transition from the ’70s to now, and we’re in a tremendous transition,” Garcia said. “There aren’t any more Frank Permuys, Pop Cuestas, Jim Macalusos or Billy Turners. We have to do something to keep the career guys. If not, we’re going to have a bunch of right-by coaches and our kids deserve better.”
Gaither High girls volleyball coach Tim Boylan, a 30-year veteran, received the night’s most coveted prize, a 2014 Ford Focus. Other prizes given away includes four round-trip tickets to anywhere in the U.S., season-ticket packages to the Tampa Bay Storm and Tampa Bay Lightning, a luxury suite at Tropicana Field, cash prizes and trips to Las Vegas and New York.
“Mr. Steinbrenner was a coach, he was a high school coach and a college coach,” said Howard Grosswirth, the New York Yankee’s vice president of marketing, “so he always wanted to give back, he knew what these coaches were going through on a day-to-day basis in regards to also having to teach curriculum as well.”