‘Unabashed supporter of Coach Mike’ prompted to respond to JT’s column

This letter published in the Feb. 17, 2022, print edition. Send your letters to the editor to jgray@natchitochestimes.com

Dear Editor,

The recent “JT” article concerning the hiring of Coach Simmons by NSU, coupled with the question of whether that hiring had implications as to Coach Mike McConathy’s position as the NSU head coach prompted me to write this letter. Let me start off by saying that I am an unabashed supporter of “Coach Mike” and appreciate how he has conducted himself as our head coach. He has the absolute best interest of our basketball team at heart on every level. The JT article pointed out that we have hit a rough patch over the past several years in the win/loss column.

Everyone familiar with NSU basketball knows that we have been plagued with injuries to several players, not the least of which put Jalen West, one of the best players to ever pass through NSU, on the sidelines for two (2) years. That circumstance, while unfortunate, is a reality of sports and it would be improper, if disingenuous, to lay that at Coach Mike’s doorstep. While we all want to win, that does not always happen despite everyone’s best efforts. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final and failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Outside the lines, Coach Mike has exhibited absolute commitment and devotion to the educational, societal and spiritual growth and development and wellbeing of his team.

As the JT article points out, the athletic performance of NSU’s basketball team is unmatched. The team has had a cumulative 3.0 grade point average and earned the NCAA Academic Excellence Award. The article correctly notes that we are only 1 of 38 schools in the country to receive this award and the only Louisiana team and the only Southland Conference team. On the societal level, his men conduct themselves with dignity and courtesy which is unmatched.

On a spiritual level, it should come as no surprise that every year Coach Mike enlists people to commit to pray daily for each young man on his team. (If you want to see Coach Mike on Sunday mornings, you can find him at First Baptist Church, piano side, 3rd row from the front, or you can come on Wednesday night to prayer meeting at 6:00 pm.) Although my encounters with the team may not be at the same level as many others, it is sufficient exposure to convince me that Mike conveys an awareness to his players that he truly has their best interest at heart and they are aware of his sincere concerns for their physical, educational and spiritual well being.

I recall several years back when NSU went to the NCAA tournament and another Coach Mike (Coach Mike Krzyzewski) apparently came into contact with Mike. Many of you-will recall his observation, after only a brief exposure to Coach Mike, that if he had a son, he would want him to play for a coach like Mike McConathy. That is a pretty high praise, but for those of us who know Coach McConathy, these remarks came as no surprise. Let’s support our great head coach Mike McConathy, the winningest coach in Louisiana college basketball history and thank him for all he has and will do for NSU and our basketball team. Also, I have seen some bumper stickers which read, “I Like Mike.” If someone knows where I can get one, let me know.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely, Edwin Dunahoe

P.S. Regarding the hiring of Coach Simmons, I recall him from several years ago when he was an Assistant Coach here. He did an excellent job then and I know he will give us a “repeat performance” now that he is back.