Don Ketchum
Former Staff Writer,

Alhambra coach had a Marv-elous career

October 22, 2010 by Don Ketchum, AZPreps365

When Marvin Nevins received a call from his daughter on Monday (Oct. 18), she told him “they’’ wanted to honor him.
Who, exactly, is “they?’’
The people at Phoenix Alhambra, that’s who.
At halftime of Alhambra’s game against visiting Phoenix Trevor Browne on Friday night (Oct. 22), Nevins was recognized for his 45 years at the west Valley school and five more in his native Nebraska. The event was organized by Ron Scott, who succeeded Nevins as baseball coach and who now is a special-education administrator in the Agua Fria Union High School District in Avondale.
Nevins taught physical education from 1964-95 but continued to coach football after that. He coached the freshman team at Alhambra in his final season in 2009. He also has been a volunteer assistant softball coach at Peoria Sunrise Mountain for several seasons.
He was surrounded by those freshman players, now on the junior varsity, during Friday night’s ceremonies. Numerous former athletes coached by Nevins also were on hand.
Before the ceremonies Scott led Nevins and a group of former athletes on a tour of the school's sports hall of fame in the lobby of the gymnasium. There is shelf after shelf of memorabilia in the glass-enclosed display. Now Nevins will have a couple of shelves of his own.
He coached the varsity baseball team for 11 seasons as head coach (eight more as an assistant). He coached the wrestling team for 16 seasons. He coached the softball team for six seasons (eight more as an assistant). He coached track and field for five seasons and volleyball for one season.
After graduating from high school, Nevins played baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization for two years and then accepted a football scholarship to the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He was an offensive tackle for the school’s Tangerine Bowl team in 1955.
He came to Alhambra in 1964, two years after it opened, and became a fixture from that point forward.
Always straightforward, he didn’t seem to have an ego. He was all about the students and athletes. He always seemed to treat us fairly. That’s all you can ask.
I was one of those students. He was my teacher in physical education and my junior-varsity football coach.
One of our favorite things to do was quickly eat lunch and go into the locker room, press our noses to the glass of the coaches’ office and cheer on our mentors as they cleared the office of chairs and began to wrestle. I think coach Nevins won more than his share. Things like this showed us they were people, too, not these big, brooding authority figures.
“That was when we were a lot younger and in a lot better shape,’’ Nevins said with a laugh.
When a student would try to pull a fast one and give him some long story filled with excuses about why they couldn’t do something, he wasn’t buying any of it.
He would clench his teeth, smile and say, “Oh I see.’’
One of the toughest things he probably had to do was take over the varsity baseball team in the mid-1970s, after John Roth, the head coach and his good friend, was severely injured when he was hit in the head by the arm of a pitching machine. Roth lived for years afterward, but was never the same.
The public-address announcer said on Friday night, “If you put all the people influenced by coach Nevins on the field, you would not see any of the yard markers.’’
Afterward, Nevins still seemed amazed and humbled by it all. He received a plaque, a gift certificate, an Alhambra helmet and jersey.
“I am truly honored,’’ he said.
No, coach, we are the ones who are honored to have been taught and led by you.