All-star game marks end of an era for Croghan

Paul Croghan has had little time to rest during more than three decades as a high school teacher and coach.

After all, he has coached three sports per year for the better part of the last 38 years, including 29 at Carson High. He wouldn't have had it any other way.

"I've had a very enjoyable time," Croghan said. "That's what has guided me through a lot of days, just looking forward to going to practice. I think that's why I always coached three sports. It kept me from going stir crazy."

Croghan is retiring at Carson High and moving back to his native Nebraska at the end of the school year, but first, there's one more basketball game to coach -- the Fallon Optimist Basketball Classic girls and boys all-star games tonight at Churchill County High School.

Croghan will coach the East squad in the girls game, which tips off at 6 p.m. at Elmo Derrico Gymnasium. The boys game is scheduled for 7:15.

Among the players who will play for the East squad are Talia Joyce and Teri Niederer from Carson, along with Churchill County's Amanda Camacho, Tristin Adams, Carly Sorensen and Terrin Johnston; Delicia Jernigan, Sidney Orndorff and Jami Harris from 2A state champion Mineral County (Hawthorne), plus Dayton's Elizabeth Schlottmann and Christy Fox. Croghan will be joined on the bench by Ron Tamori, who was his assistant in the Carson program the last seven years.

"These are obviously pretty good athletes, so there won't be much for us to do," Croghan said. "Other than some very simple organization, we're just going to let them play."

In the last seven years, Croghan has coached Carson's girls golf in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and boys golf in the spring. While three-sport athletes have become a rare breed in large high schools, three-sport coaches are even more difficult to find. It's unfortunate, Croghan believes.

"I think it's good to be well rounded. If they can play two or even three sports, more power to them," Croghan said. "But now, they get kids to specialize and the result is, you have coaches who specialize. What you're seeing is a demand to make a 12-month commitment and they don't have time for their families. I think it's a real injustice to the kids and a real reason why you're seeing burnout in so many of the young coaches now."

That philosophy is reflective of his upbringing as one of eight children on a farm in tiny Arnold, Neb.

"We lived on a farm outside town until I was in fourth grade. We had no indoor plumbing or electricity -- we used kerosene lamps. But, you know, I wouldn't trade any of that for the world. I was blessed with a great family and very supportive parents."

Croghan set the tone for his coaching career when he lettered in football, basketball and track through all four years at a high school of 120 students. "There were 21 in my graduating class, so everybody did everything," he said.

After graduating in 1960, he accepted a scholarship to play basketball at McCook Junior College and played football on the side. However, it was a football scholarship that took him to Idaho State in 1962. That year also figured into one of Croghan's many amazing stories -- his 13-year marriage to Carmon. Make that 13-plus-29.

"We were engaged in 1962 and married in 1990," Croghan said, flashing a smile. "I left McCook to go up to Idaho State and she went to a private school in Macon, Georgia, and we didn't see each other for 29 years."

It didn't take long to rekindle the relationship once they got back in touch with each other.

"We made a couple of phone calls, and that was that," Croghan said.

At Idaho State, Croghan also switched his major from pre-engineering to education.

"Sometime during my junior year, I read where the field of civil engineering was being overwhelmed, so I thought it might be a good idea to try something else," Croghan said. "It never entered my mind that I wanted to be a teacher before then."

His first teaching/coaching assignment came at Boise High School. "I started at a salary of $5,200 my first year, and that included the money I made for coaching. I even went out and bought a new Mustang. I was in hog heaven," he said with a laugh.

Croghan moved to Carson City in 1971 as part of an Idaho contingent that included Ron McNutt, Ron Farnworth and John Giannandrea. McNutt is still varsity baseball coach and athletic director at Carson. Farnworth was Croghan's assistant with the golf program this spring.

"As far as I know, John (Giannandrea) is still coaching up in Washington," Croghan said.

Croghan was also Carson's varsity football coach from 1983-1992 -- in 1987, the Senators went 9-3 and advanced to the zone finals -- plus he coached softball and was an assistant to Tom Andreasen on the 1975 state championship boys basketball team. In between, Croghan moved back to Nebraska in 1975, then returned two years later and took a job at Incline High for one year. He came back to Carson in 1978.

There have been successes on the field, yet Croghan said he'll remember the friendships most of all.

"I've been around some great individuals and some outstanding athletes, boys and girls," Croghan said. "I've been real fortunate. I wouldn't trade a day of it for anything."

Looking ahead, Paul and Carmon are moving back to Arnold, where he plans to get his teaching credential in Nebraska and work as a substitute teacher. He's had an offer to work at the nine-hole golf course in his home town. He may even get in shape so he can work as a game official in football or basketball. And, of course, there figures to be time to play a few rounds of golf.

"Now I'll be able to just have fun playing with my family and friends."

But first, there's one more game to coach in Fallon.

"I was pleased when Scott (Meihack) asked me if I would do it," Croghan said. "I felt privileged to have the opportunity. I wouldn't mind if I had another opportunity like it five years down the road or so -- I'm retiring, I'm not dying. I'll always be competitive, you can ask my wife that. It doesn't matter if it's football or tiddlywinks, I like to fire my best shot and see what happens."

BREAKOUT

WHAT: Fallon Optimist Basketball Classic.

WHO: Northern Nevada high school senior boys and girls.

WHEN: Tonight, 6 p.m. girls, 7:15 boys.

WHERE: Churchill County High School, Fallon.

TELEVISION: Tape delayed on The Local Sports Program.

COST: $5 adults, $2 seniors and high school students with ID, children under 12 free.

WHY: To support various activities sponsored by the Fallon Optimist Club in the Churchill County area.

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