SHHS coach Rob Younger stepping down

When Rob Younger came to Sweet Home, he only planned to spend a couple of years here before moving on to a bigger school.

Thirty years later, he is finding it hard to say goodbye, he said.

Younger, 55, submitted his resignation two weeks ago and is retiring from teaching and coaching football at the end of the school year. He will become assistant director of the Oregon Coaches Association with the retirement of Executive Director Marv Heater. Assistant Director Dave Johnson will be executive director.

Younger has taught for 30 years, all of it in Sweet Home. He started coaching at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis 35 years ago while completing his degree at Oregon State University.

Dick Price hired Younger in 1980. When he interviewed with Price, Younger said he wanted to go to a bigger school in two or three years.

“We’ll see,” Price told him.

“This community has been great for me and my family,” Younger said. “We can’t think of a better place to raise our kids.”

Even though he’ll work in Salem, Younger plans to live in Sweet Home and commute.

“It’s one of those jobs where you put in as many hours as you need,” he said. He envisions working in Salem three or four days a week and telecommuting the rest of the week.

One of the reasons Younger and his wife, Karen, liked this idea is that she can retire from Hawthorne School where she is a Title I aide, and they can travel a little.

When Johnson needs two or three weeks off, Younger will fill in for him at the office. When Younger needs several weeks off, Johnson will cover for him.

“It’s just a perfect way to stay in the arena of coaching but be able to start into the next (step) of life,” he said. “I still love to teach and coach. It was difficult to make this decision, but the timing was right.”

That’s why making the decision came so quickly, he said.

Younger said he will miss the interaction with students.

He loves going to work every day and developing relationships, he said. “I just really enjoy working with students and student athletes.

“We’ve won a lot of games, but more importantly we’ve worked with great people.”

The Youngers have had many opportunities to take other jobs, he said, but they’ve always turned them down because they love Sweet Home; their church, Community Chapel; and the people of Sweet Home.

As a coach, Younger was league coach of the year eight times. He won the 2007 Power of Influence Award from the American Football Coaches Association. Last year, the Oregon Officials Association named him Coach of the Year.

Younger was defensive coordinator in 1987 when the Huskies won the state championship. He became head coach in 1988.

He also coached softball for 15 years. He also was head basketball coach in the 1980s. He has coached a total of 59 seasonsin various sports.

“Now that I look back at it, this last year’s football team is pretty special,” Younger said. It epitomizes what he thinks high school football should be about, setting the example.

His team finished 3-1 in league and 9-4 overall last fall. The Huskies defeated LaGrande and Douglas in the first two rounds of state playoffs before Phoenix knocked them out in the quarterfinals.

The reason they did so well, he said, is because they are better people than they are players. He figures that the Huskies won three or four games they probably should have lost because of that.

This year’s team was the team he’s always wanted, he said. “I’m really proud of what they accomplished.”

That’s why the hardest part of retiring was going to talk to the underclassmen about his decision, to let them know he wasn’t going to coach next year, Younger said.

Younger has had the opportunity to coach with his son, David, for several years. He said David is like the other coaches in the community. Out of 26 coaches in the Sweet Home program last year, from third grade to varsity, 19 played football here, he said, and he is proud to see them giving back to this community.

He is proud to have the chance to work with these coaches, including his son, he said. Looking up the sidelines to see his son is a memory he will keep forever.

The same goes for other special coaches, like Lynn Ellis, who retired several years ago. Ellis called Younger at the beginning of the year and asked if it might be his last year. Younger told him it could be and asked him to come back and help coach this year.

It was a special year to coach with Ellis one more time last season and have former Husky football players Tim and Matt Matuszak and Ken Kittson among others on staff, Younger said.

“In my position, working at the national and state level, a lot of the time, you hear the horror stories about coaching,” Younger said. Those don’t happen in Sweet Home.

He has worked for just four principals and four athletic directors, he said. Everyone who has served in those positions has been positive and supportive, and he works in a great community with great parents.

It has been very rare that he has had to deal with negative parents, he said. The parents are involved, positive and supportive. That’s what makes Sweet Home special, and that’s why it’s been so successful in so many sports over the years.

Relationships with coaches, players and parents also define football, he said. When a coach is young, wins and losses are important. Figuring out how to get the win is important.

“But when it’s all done and said, as you look back, the relationships with your players, the relationships with parents staff members, that’s what makes it important,” Younger said