Boys’ Coach of the Year

Willie Howard

Cooper football

Why he won: A 9-1 season, the finest of his eight as Cooper coach, owes to his commitment on and off the football field. Success isn’t a concept, it’s practiced, he says. Players dress up for school on Mindset Mondays and We Will Succeed Wednesdays and then often bask in victory on Fridays. Howard, a former Stanford and Vikings defensive tackle, led the transformation of Cooper’s program from an afterthought to a model of success in myriad forms.

What he said: “Being raised in an environment where we were poor, I never had the opportunity to play sports until I was 14 years old. They saw me in the hallways like a lot of other athletes in here we’re talking about. I was 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, so I played football. Tyrone Willingham was my head football coach at Stanford University. I was blessed to be able to be drafted by Denny Green with the Minnesota Vikings. This is an amazing award that says coach of the year, but the beautiful thing about it is the great coaching staff that I have. Every year is new and rebuilding for us, but I have some great coaches who make that process real easy for me.”