Steve Valach: a 44-year streak broken

Olivia Briggs, Sports Editor

Imagine doing something every year for almost your entire life, until one year, unexpectedly, you’re unable to do it. 

Sadly, that hypothetical has become a reality for millions of people this year, including Liberty football coach Steve Valach.

“I started playing football when I was 11, and I started coaching the fall that I graduated college,” Valach said. “So I’ve been playing every fall since I was 11. That’s 44 years of doing this.”

That ongoing record was halted this year when fall sports were postponed to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

At first, the postponement was a much-needed break from the sport.

“It felt like ‘Wow, it’s August, and I can actually think about going somewhere for a weekend’ or ‘It’s September and we can drive to Idaho.’ That’s something I’ve never known before in my adult life,” Valach said.

Still, the freedom accompanying this break came hand-in-hand with a longing to get back to the sport. The further we got from the last football game, the more Valach came to miss football.

“I miss the intensity. I miss the grind. I miss the Friday night preparation,” Valach said. “But what I miss the most is that interaction with the players.”

While the Coronavirus cancellations have been unexpected and quite sad, it’s taught all of us many important lessons about others and ourselves. For Valach, he was reminded of why he got into the sport in the first place and why he kept at it. 

“Right now, you’re stuck in your room, looking at a screen and interacting with this really artificial space. I’m realizing how important sports are. They can be a great motivator,” Valach said.

He also learned that he’s not done yet. The loss of his sport was a reminder that it is something he loves and wants to continue doing.

“Just the physical exercise, to get out and to get your heart rate going, you just feel mentally, emotionally, and spiritually better,” Valach said. “I miss it.”

I think we all do, Coach.