Patriots’ Steve Valach named Coach of the Year
December 15, 2009
By Bob Taylor
If Liberty High School football coach Steve Valach had his way, the recent Coach of the Year award he received would have included a few more names.
Valach was honored Dec. 6 as the Seattle Seahawks’ High School Coach of the Year. He was given the award, along with a check for $2,000 for the Liberty football program, at halftime of the Seahawks’ game with the visiting San Francisco 49ers.
While Valach’s name was on the award, the Liberty head coach pointed out that other members of the team deserved to be on it, too.
“This is really a team award. You don’t win it without having excellent players or without having excellent coaches,” Valach said. “As the head coach, you get your name on it, but it really should include all the players and coaches. There are a lot of people who made this award possible.”
This fall, Liberty posted a 12-2 record and finished second in the Class 3A state tournament. It was the first time since 1988 that the Patriots played in the state title game. Liberty lost to KingCo Conference rival Bellevue 23-17 in the championship contest.
Valach didn’t spend the entire Dec. 6 afternoon at Qwest Field. Shortly after the presentation, he and his son Isaiah left to visit an injured player at Seattle’s Children’s.
Matthew Newman, a junior quarterback for Highland High School in the central Washington community of Cowiche, suffered a concussion in a game Sept. 18. Newman was rushed to Yakima’s Regional Medical and Cardiac Center, where he underwent surgery to remove a portion of his skull to help lessen the swelling and pressure around his brain.
After three weeks at the Yakima hospital, Newman was transferred to Seattle Children’s, where he has waged an inspiring battle for his life that has caught the attention of people throughout the Pacific Northwest, the nation and even the world. A Web site — www.Raise7forMatthew.com — has been started for him. Seven is the number he wears for the Highland football team.
Many high school football players have provided encouragement to Newman. Among those is Skyline High School all-state linebacker Anthony DeMatteo.
Newman’s story has even gone international. In Japan, at the Koshien Bowl, members of the Hosei University team will raise “7” to Newman.
Liberty players and coaches became aware of Newman’s battle earlier this season. On Dec. 6, Valach took posters autographed by the team, to Newman. One poster showed the players holding up “7,” and another poster showed Liberty fans raising “7.”
“He was definitely touched by it and just held the pictures in his hands for quite a while,” Valach said. “I am so proud of Liberty. This year was so much bigger than football or awards.”
Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.