Foss: Loss of former coach stings
Ray Stinar died the other day. Unexpectedly, at 69. I really didn't get to know him until later in life, when he became the boys basketball coach at East Grand Forks Senior High. Even then, our relationship was that of a coach and a reporter, not...
Ray Stinar died the other day. Unexpectedly, at 69.
I really didn't get to know him until later in life, when he became the boys basketball coach at East Grand Forks Senior High.
Even then, our relationship was that of a coach and a reporter, nothing more. I covered a few games his teams played, and interviewed him afterward.
He retired from a successful coaching career in 2000. Five years later, I retired from the newspaper profession.
Only then did I get to know Ray better and appreciate him more.
We both attended a semi-monthly gathering of former coaches, administrators, sports media people and a few avid fans, almost all of us retired.
At those meetings, we go around the table and each one shares a story or two of sporting events we've seen recently.
It was through these sessions that my admiration and appreciation of Ray Stinar grew. As a coach, he offered unique insight into games he saw, of athletes he watched. His delivery of his accounts was as precise as the game plans he developed for the teams he coached.
Our group is made up of a lot of guys like Ray Stinar. Guys who have spent much of their lives inside the world of sports. Some at the high school level, some at the college level, first as athletes, later as coaches, administrators, journalists or super fans.
I haven't been to a meeting this fall. I've been at my lake cabin when the meetings came along. So I haven't seen Ray Stinar since our group adjourned for summer vacation.
And now he's gone, just like that. Just like another favorite of mine from the group, Dave Rubin, passed on earlier.
Age takes its toll as we move on into the later years of our lives. The bells toll for Dave Rubin and Ray Stinar, and our little group shrinks in size, one by one.
Yet we cling together, sports being the common bond that extends from our boyhood into our golden years.
Time slows down for us now, retirement offering time for reflection. It gives us an opportunity for forging new friendships that perhaps our busy lives prevented in the past.
I've come to cherish these meetings and the chance to reunite with men like Ray Stinar and Dave Rubin on a different level.
So when our group loses men like that, it hurts all of us. We're poorer for their loss, but enriched in spirit and memories by their contributions and friendships.
So I sat in my cabin by myself on Lake Beltrami the other night and read the obituary notice for Ray Stinar. I felt a sadness wash over me.
Death is a part of life, I'm aware of that. Still, it stings when it comes. It leaves a void that we don't know how to fill.
But we try, and we go on, thankful that men like Ray Stinar and Dave Rubin touched our lives and made them better.
Foss, who reported on sports for 36 years for the Grand Forks Herald until his retirement, writes a weekly column from October through April. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (701) 772-9272.