When the Owosso boys basketball team faces DeWitt around 7:30 p.m. on Friday for first place in the CAAC Red, Dave Owens will have already put in more than an hour of coaching on the sideline prior to the opening tip.
That’s because the Owosso science and physical education teacher, who has led the Trojans varsity boys team the past 12 seasons, also became the varsity girls coach as well this winter.
“He came to me last year after the resignation of Devon Burzynski when we posted the position,” Owosso athletic director Dallas Lintner said. “He had some conversations with his wife and family, and approached me to discuss pulling double duty.
“I try to hire the best qualified applicant for the position and figure out the rest after that.”
Owens had just led the Owosso boys to a CAAC Red title last winter and was two wins shy of the 100 win mark that he has since reached in December.
“I believe he will do great things with the girls program,” Lintner said. “He’s a high energy guy, one of our top teachers, and he had coached varsity boys and fourth grade girls afterward for instance. So he’s used to different levels, and his family has become accustomed to his schedule from November through March. He’s a big part of this program. We’re very fortunate that we’ve got Dave Owens.”
So Lintner hired Owens and then had to “figure out the rest,” which included what Lintner called “significant changes in the way we schedule.” That was important because – while girls and boys play doubleheaders most weeks starting at 6 p.m. on Fridays – they tend to play at opposite sites most Tuesdays in the CAAC.
“When I got the job, one of first things we had to do was contact schools and made arrangements that all games would be varsity boys and girls doubleheaders,” Owens said. “We don’t have any tripleheaders (freshmen, junior varsity and varsity playing games one after the other) where we have to choose (which team to coach).”
Besides the time it takes to coach two teams in the same season, scheduling was one of the reasons that people who used to coach girls basketball in the fall and boys basketball in the winter a decade ago — like former Everett coach Johnny Jones and current Eaton Rapids girls coach Willis Whitmyer – felt they had to choose to coach either varsity boys only (as Jones picked) or varsity girls only (as Whitmyer did).
One reason the dual role was attractive to Owens was his involvement in both youth programs.
“My assistant and I have been running the youth program over here for fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders,” Owens said. “So I had some invested interested in the development of not just the boys, but the girls basketball programs as well. I have put some time into this, and want to see what I can do.”
He praises his staff of assistants at each level for making the practices and game days work.
“This wouldn’t even be fathomable without a solid core of assistants that can prepare one team while Dave coaches the other,” Lintner said.
Amid all of the extra work, Owens has actually become reinvigorated.
“It’s like starting over, like when I first came here 12-13 years ago,” he said. “It’s neat to be able to do all of that again: set up a new system for the girls team, arrange practices and set game plans.”
A chance to coach both of his children entered into the decision a bit as well.
“My middle son David is (a junior) on the varsity team,” Owens said. “If my (eighth grade) daughter Katie chooses to continue to play — and it will be her decision and I’ll support her either way — then I would coach her as well next year.”