Good coaches are hard to come by

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see many coaches in many sports.

But I can tell you unequivocally that good coaches are hard to find.

There are only a select few that fall into the great category. Included in that lot are such legends as John MacInnes of Michigan Tech, Ed Helakoski of Chassell High, Jim Crawford of Calumet High, Ron Warner of Lake Linden-Hubbell High and Dick Franti of Ontonagon High.

You’ll find those kind of coaches already enshrined in the U.P. Hall of Fame.

There is a smaller group of coaches who fall just a step or two shy of the great category.

I believe that Duane Snell of Jeffers is in that group.

Snell, who recently resigned his job as basketball coach at Jeffers, was a coach who grew into the job.

After playing his prep career under Mike Maki (another very good coach) Snell came in and built the Jets hoops program into a consistent winner.

Like his mentor, Duane Snell concentrated on the fundamentals.

Sure, he had some good talent in certain seasons. The Jets team of a decade or so ago (Kyle Smith, Ross Kinnunen, etc.) was not only tall, but they had speed and depth.

But most of the some 18 years he was on the job, Jeffers was undersized. Six-footers were a rarity.

Yet, Snell was able to mold what talent he had into solid teams that could knock off any foe on a given night.

This past season was a good example. Most fans will long remember that Dollar Bay nearly spilled record-setting North Central in the regional semifinals, losing by two points.

But the Blue Bolts were just a few seconds away from being eliminated in the district tournament by Jeffers, losing by three points.

One other point — much appreciated by most media outlets — about the outgoing JHS coach.

He always made a point of calling in his games and mentioning which players had good games. And it wasn’t just the game’s high scorer, either.

It could have been the kid who played good defense. Or the one who grabbed a key rebound late in the game.

At any rate, Duane Snell’s absence on the sidelines will be felt.

As I said, good coaches are hard to find.


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