Archive for Tuesday, February 14, 1995

HASKELL COACHES WEAR MANY HATS

February 14, 1995

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Haskell University's coaches aren't asked to sing the national anthem. Or sell popcorn at halftime. Or sweep the court or mow the grass on the field.

But if they were? No problem.

"The people we have here are pretty versatile," said Al Gipp, Haskell's women's track and cross country coach.

The Indians have five head coaches: Gary Tanner in football, Walt Wilson in men's basketball, Phil Homeratha in women's basketball, Dwight Pickering in men's track and cross country, and Gipp in women's track and cross country.

All five have coached other sports during their time at Haskell. Homeratha, for instance, was formerly head coach in football, men's basketball, wrestling and track.

"He's coached all the men's sports but baseball," athletic director Jerry Tuckwin observed. "And he's very qualified to coach that."

Homeratha has been at Haskell since 1971. He was the school's athletic director from 1986-90 and its head football coach from 1976-81.

"It sounds kind of corny," Homeratha said, "but I made up my mind a long time ago I wanted to teach Indian kids. I've felt my life's work was to teach Indian kids."

Wilson, who has coached at Haskell for 13 seasons, used to be the head women's basketball coach and an assistant in football and volleyball. He was originally hired to coach baseball.

"From what I understand," Wilson said, "my swimming background helped me get the job. They were looking for a swimming instructor."

Pickering, who ran cross country for the Indians in the early 1970s, is in his second year as a Haskell coach.

"When I came here," Pickering recalled, "they needed a volleyball coach, and I told them I'd be glad to do it."

Volleyball has since been dropped, but Pickering liked his one season.

"I really enjoyed it," Pickering said. "I felt lke there needed to be some recruiting done there. The kids I did have were pretty talented."

Tanner, who has been at Haskell 10 years, was head men's and women's track coach one season. He also attempted to start a wrestling program in 1991 but discovered that time constraints were too limiting.

"I tried it one year," Tanner said. "When I did that, football suffered right away."

Gipp, a 10-year Haskell veteran, has coached men's track and cross country and was head women's basketball coach for four seasons. At one time, he was in charge of Haskell's entire track program.

"By dividing the men's and women's (track) programs," Gipp said, "I can focus all of my energy and the men's coach can focus his."

Tuckwin, Haskell's athletic director since 1990, was also AD from 1978-86. In between, he was dean of liberal arts.

When he first came to Haskell in 1965, he was men's basketball coach.

Tuckwin then went into the Air Force and returned to Haskell in 1970. He has been head track and cross country coach and had another stint as men's basketball coach.

"One year I came back from Christmas," Tuckwin recalled with a chuckle, "and the coach had resigned the basketball position, and I became the head basketball coach for the remainder of the season."

In addition to the five head coaches, Haskell also employs two full-time assistants -- John Morris in football and Richard Brewer in football and basketball. Morris, at one time, was head women's basketball coach.

Denise Cesare, secretary and cheerleading sponsor, is also employed full-time by the department.

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