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In honor of a legendary coach
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Remembering James (Jim) William Long, devoted husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend, athlete and legendary coach — April 16, 2012.

It is with great sadness, a sense of loss and utter inadequacy I attempt to write a brief tribute to a man whose tribute has already been written by the man himself in the hearts of his family and so many young men and women whose lives he enriched over many years.

Webster defines inspiring as "causing people to want to do or create something or to lead better lives." By Webster’s definition, Coach Long was inspiring. He caused us to want to do, to create, to lead a better life. In my life, few people have had a stronger, more lasting influence than Coach Long. He inspired us, his players, to achieve things on the athletic fields of endeavor that we were individually not talented enough to accomplish, yet somehow we as a team did.

His lessons went beyond athletic endeavors. He caused me to believe that if I were willing to prepare, if I had strength of character and I had the resolve to do my best, that I could compete with most any opponent in most any endeavor. Coach caused me to believe. He saw far more promise in my teammates and me than we saw in ourselves.

Forty-plus years ago, he taught us to assess our strengths and our weaknesses and those of our opponents. He taught us to determine our threats and opportunities, to set the pace and style of play that exploited our strengths and exposed the competition’s weaknesses. He taught us to establish and defend a favorable position relative to the goal, to keep our eye on the goal and to never give up. Coach called this "playing smart" and "making them play your game." Today, business schools call the process Coach used "strategic planning" and "SWOT analysis." His process was an important lesson about competition, whether in athletics or business. His teachings have served us well in life. We loved the man, and he loved us. Thank you, Coach. We are forever grateful.

My prayer for Mrs. Mary Will, Brad, Bruce, other family members and close friends is that Coach’s Lord and Savior will hold you close during this time. I know you will cherish your memories of your devoted husband, father and grandfather and friend. Please know that the memory of our devoted Coach and his legacy lives on in my heart and countless other hearts he touched.

Matthew 5:4 — "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

Joe Usher

ECHS Class of 1971