LHW You seem to have many detractors in Nassau County. Some say you rig your tournaments to make sure your team makes it to the finals. Is there any truth to the speculation? Why do you think you have this reputation?
HOWIE: Having detractors comes with having a tradition of success. The better we got the more people had negative things to say about us. This was true with many of the successful coaches in Nassau County. I used to hear things about Paul Gillespie, Gary Mims, Steve Shippos, and Lou Gianni to name a few.
When you’re constantly on top, you’re a target, and we’ve been consistently on top. Therefore, unfortunately this is the price of success. I’m sure any of the historically successful coaches could vouch for the attacks on their reputation. When they can’t beat you on the mat, the only thing that’s left is to attack your integrity.
I think some of it, though, is that I’m totally dedicated to the success of MacArthur…As such, I’ve been able to build a program without having to open my practice room to the rest of the county. It’s not that I would turn a wrestler away that wanted to work with us, but I don’t have to reach out to run a good off-season practice. Thus, I haven’t been building the relationships that many coaches build in the off-season when they are working together.
LHW: If you could change one thing about how wrestling is practiced in the county and/or the state what would that be?
HOWIE: I would like to see the coaches stick to the book. Last year when seeding for the county qualifier, we had an agreed upon procedure, and we completely abandoned the book. Anytime you go away from the book, you open it for up the better lawyer to win. So I’d like to see us honor our agreements because that’s the only way to ensure that we are being totally fair to the kids.
Each year a ton of things change with the rules. It’s difficult to keep track of them all. Many of the newer coaches are voting on things that they may not fully understand because they weren’t around to see how it doesn’t work.
After 24 years, I’ve seen it all, and I am outspoken when people try to maneuver for an advantage. I guess it makes me look uncooperative, but it’s not right to go along to get along when you see something that you believe is unfair.
I would like to see the coaches be more concerned about values. If you look on the LIWA forum, there is a lot of things that are said that shouldn’t be said there. Our kids aren’t allowed to post offensive material, and if they do, they hear it from me, and it never happens again. And that goes for the parents too. If they’re posting inflammatory things, they’re gonna hear it from me. I am doing everything I can to put a stop to it.