Joe's Vault: A look back at coach Marv Harshman

We learned last Friday that legendary basketball coach Marv Harshman passed away at the age of 95.

In the nearly 28 years since he retired as the University of Washington basketball coach, we've read that Coach was still mentoring and giving coaching advice up until very recently. Nothing else could be expected. It was in his blood.

I recall running into him once when I was a freshman shot putter at the U. Another freshman, a discus thrower named Reno Pellegrini, and I opened the side door of Hec Ed and found ourselves face to face with Coach Harshman as he was reaching for the door. He glanced at us both and bellowed, "Hello men!" It seemed so "college" to the ears of an 18 year old in the fall of his freshman year. I loved it and I've always remembered that encounter.

In the Spring of 1985, I worked with KOMO Sports Reporter Harry Sloan on a special about Coach Harshman called "Marv Harshman. The CoachThe Man." We looked at the coach's life from boyhood to coaching at PLU, WSU, and finally to the University of Washington. Sloan spoke with Harshman about his life and philosophy and very honestly told his feelings about having to walk away from the job he loved.

I met the coach a couple more times briefly in the ensuing years and he graciously listened and smiled as I babbled my story to him about our encounter so many years ago.

It's quite wonderful that Marv Harshman had nearly three decades following this program to continue coaching in a different way and continuing his life's work as a Teacher. Isn't that what a great coach is really?