Coaches continue tradition

by Scott Harvey
Staff Writer

With the recent resignation of legendary head football coach Lou Holtz from Notre Dame, an important question is raised among sports enthusiasts: Is an era of football coaches dedicated to teaching players over?

The answer may be found by looking at the small town, Division III University of La Verne where a philosophy of education and overall learning has fueled football coaches and players to make winning and tasting success a reality. Dedication, motivation and a commitment to education are three things that the ULV football coaching staff has based its thriving success on.

Although the Leopards did not win their fourth straight SCIAC championship, the coaching staff firmly believes that the team performed successfully in many areas and that the future does look bright for the 1997 season.

Don Morel, in his third year as head football coach and teacher at La Verne, believes that the philosophy he learned as a defensive lineman for ULV coach Roland “Ort” Ortmayer is still carried on in the way he runs the team.

“Things have changed, as far as recruiting and scouting players, but one thing our program still enforces is that education is always first in college,” said Morel.

This season proved to be more challenging for Morel and assistants as they again were knocked from the NCAA Division III rankings and the SCIAC Championship with two losses and an overall record of 7-2, 4-1 in league.

Bill Zernickow

“We had a good season, but when it comes to playoffs and being NCAA ranked, its mainly out of our hands,” said defensive end coach Bill Zernickow.

Zernickow, in his second year, also believes that the players should value education by concentrating on their finals coming up rather than the loss of the SCIAC title.

“Ortmayer has had a big impact on me personally and also has influenced our philosophy as coaches, but the talent and character of our players makes winning a lot easier,” said Zernickow about the key to La Verne’s football success.

Another part of being successful in football is measured by the chemistry between players and coaches, and according to the coaching staff, the ULV program is a perfect example of that chemistry.

Jim Langley

“We are not just coaches who work together, we are friends who are willing to criticize and help each other,” said wide receiver coach Jim Langley.

Langley also has had a history at La Verne as he played under Ortmayer and graduated in 1984 with a degree in education. Langley is currently a teacher at Pasadena High School and instills the principles and lessons he learned from football and life at ULV to the young people he teaches.

“Everyone has a good attitude about football on our team, coaches and players. It’s a lot easier to win games and be successful when their is good team chemistry,” said Langley.

Lou Parra

Adding a new perspective to the football philosophy is first year defensive line coach Lou Parra. Parra graduated last year from La Verne and played under Morel as a linebacker for two years.

“The best thing about our overall program is the relationship between coaches and players. We all treat each other with respect at all times,” said Parra.

Steve Blair

Defense has also been a large part of the Leopards’ success in the past and third-year defensive back coach Steve Blair, a graduate of La Verne, believes that the success of the defense and the overall program comes from the player’s commitment to become educated about football and life in general.

“Things are definitely different than when I played for La Verne, but I can still see that the players come to our program to learn and hopefully become better players,” said Blair.

One dominate thing seems to be clear among players and coaches-learning through experiences has helped La Verne football become a successful program.

“The coaches and players get along really well and we learn new things everyday from our coaches, not just about football, but about life,” said senior linebacker Anthony Russo.

The La Verne coaches are hard at work attempting to restructure their team for next year and both Morel and Zernickow are working to recruit new prospects for the `97 season. The loss of senior running back Anthony Rice will challenge the staff to find a capable replacement, but Zernickow believes the team will adjust.

“We are really going to miss Rice, he is one of the most talented running backs I’ve ever worked with, but our offense will be deep enough next year to still keep the running game as a major threat,” said Zernickow.

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