Mike Feher Was Much More Than A Coach - And Response

Sunday, June 22, 2014


I received word that Mike Feher passed away today.  I have so many memories of Mike.  Many of them are flooding back to me right now.   

I guess most of all I am remembering Mike the coach.  He coached so many Signal Mountain baseball and basketball youth recreation league teams few people could count them all.  He was a beloved figure.  He was laid back, always uplifting, and genuinely enjoyed being around the kids.  In return the kids loved him back.  His job required him to travel for a living so attending all the practices and the games was a sacrifice to him.  But he never made anyone feel like he was sacrificing.  He just gave and gave and gave.  There really was nobody like Mike Feher. 

In 2004, I was Mike’s assistant coach.  One of the boys on our team was a great kid and a good athlete, but he could get pretty emotional out in the field.   The boy wanted to pitch.  So even though we had a couple very good pitchers, Mike let him pitch.  I remember being so impressed with Mike watching him sit next to Zach in the corner of the dugout talking to him quietly, assuring him that no matter how he threw out there, it was all going to be okay.  

In basketball, one of the boys in the league had some special needs that made it difficult for him to compete with the rest of the boys.  At the end of each game, the coaches would let Denver take a shot or two to be sure he felt like he was a contributing part of the game.   We had one coach who wanted to win at all costs and thought that even though these boys still weren’t even in middle school, we should be playing every play for keeps.  At the end of one of the games, this coach protested as Denver was getting his chance to contribute.  As commissioner of the league that year, Mike over ruled him and said it’s more important for all the boys to build their self esteem and be part of the game than just to win. 

One of my memories of him was when I coached against him.  Our kids were probably in second or third grade at the time.  It was the last game of the season.  One of the boys on his team’s mother had been suddenly hospitalized a couple days earlier with a severe heart ailment.   The boy’s father was trying to make everything normal for his son and let Justin play in the game.  But word came just before the game that Justin’s mother had died.  With tears in his eyes and his voice breaking, Mike told us of the news.  We all coached through that game watching Justin playing his best until a sharp grounder hit by one of my players took a bad bounce and hit Justin in the mouth.  Justin’s lip was badly split and had to go to the hospital for stitches . . . the same hospital that his mother had passed away in just hours before.  Mike was just beside himself with grief.

Our last time coaching together, we coached the Signal Mountain all-stars against the Lookout Mountain all-stars.  We hated getting beat by Lookout Mountain, but even though it wasn’t required in all-star play, Mike insisted on all of our players getting a chance to play.  The coaches had selected a girl to play on our all-star team that year.  Colton Jumper and Joey Rodgers were pitching for Lookout and just tearing us up.  A couple of our best players teased their female teammate when she didn’t play as well as the boys.  Mike benched both of the boys (one of them was my son) for the rest of the game.  That was Mike.  He was for everyone and he was for the right thing.

Even though he coached so many teams, I honestly can’t remember if Mike ever coached a championship team in youth baseball or basketball.  He never stacked his teams and he never made winning the most important part of the game.  While he certainly liked to win, he was more concerned with building up the kids.  Thinking about him today and his legacy, winning a game or a championship seems so trivial.    

I didn’t know Mike’s daughters as well as I knew his son, but my oldest daughter participated in the Junior Miss contest the year after Mike’s daughter, Becca, won the event.  As the previous winner, Becca hosted the event.  I sat near Mike and talked with him throughout the evening.  He couldn’t have been more proud of his daughter . . . and what a great girl she had turned out to be.   

Mike was an excellent golfer.  Anyone who can drive Signal Mountain’s fifth green has got a golf game.  He played in many of the men’s tournament games, but always took time to play with his wife, Candy, and his son, Mikey.  He helped Mikey develop into one of the best junior players in the Chattanooga area and eventually earn a scholarship to play for David Lipscomb University.  But as great a golfer as Mikey is, he is a better person and Mike certainly had a strong hand in that.  I know Mike’s mother and father.  They were always involved with their children’s and their grandchildren’s lives.  We’d see them at the games, around the golf course, and around town.  They were equally as positive and supportive.  People say the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.  I’m sure it doesn’t.

Anyone who knew Mike Feher, would say he was kind, he was giving, he was loyal, he was uplifting; there really aren’t enough positive adjectives to describe him.  Even though as our kids got older and we didn’t spend as much time together, I remember him only with the fondest thoughts.  He certainly was more than a coach.  He was a great man.  I am a much better man to have known him.  I can’t help but think his memory and his spirit will live on in us.  Rest in peace, Mike Feher.  I will miss you.

Bob Linehart 

* * *

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Bob Linehart regarding Mike Feher.   I got to know Mike when he and I coached basketball in the Signal Mountain league.  His teams always played well and he was always gracious in victory or defeat.   His players learned how to play basketball as well as conduct themselves with great sportsmanship during the game.  A class act.      

Mr. Linehart, he did coach a championship team one year.  His 9 -10 year old team defeated my team in double overtime for the league championship.  Both teams played outstanding and yes all the players on both team got to play and contribute.    

Years later when I would see Mike at a golf tournament we would talk about that game and how exciting it was for  the players and coaches.   I will miss Mike his great smile and a hearty laugh. What a great guy.  

John Pierce
Principal
Red Bank Middle School


A Vote For Education Is Critical In Tennessee

In a state where just 28 percent of eighth graders are proficient in math and 33 percent are proficient in reading according to national assessments, education is deserving of more attention in 2014 elections. Across the country, more parents are making informed decisions about their child’s education, but for Volunteer State parents without resources, choices are difficult to come ... (click for more)

The Committee For Plain English On Hamilton County Ballots

First, there is no “committee.”  But there ought to be. Now I am not the brightest guy in the county. I only have a Bachelor of Science degree (five years), Graduate work in English, Philosophy and Economics (two years) and several years experience teaching at Chattanooga State and substitute teaching in Hamilton County public schools.  I recently voted in the November ... (click for more)

Downtown Chattanooga Apartment Complex That Brought $3 Million Profit Exempt From Most Taxes Until 2022 Under PILOT

A downtown Chattanooga apartment complex that recently was sold at a $3 million profit is exempt from most property taxes through 2022 under a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement.   No payment of school taxes was included in the deal for Walnut Commons at Walnut Street and Aquarium Way.   The only taxes due on the property for the next eight ... (click for more)

Cold, Wet Front To Make For Chilly And Damp Trick Or Treating; Snow Showers Possible Saturday

A surge of cold, moist air will make for less-than-ideal trick or treat conditions on Halloween night. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing this weekend. There is a possibility of snow showers in Chattanooga on Saturday. Here is the latest forecast: Today Showers likely, mainly after 5pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 58. Calm wind becoming northwest ... (click for more)

Owls Beat McMinn, 30-12, To Complete Unbeaten Regular Season

Undefeated. Sounds nice, huh. After a sluggish first half that produced only three points on a Laszlo Toser field goa., third-ranked Ooltewah came to life in the third quarter, riddled McMinn County’s defense with three Kelvin Leon touchdown passes in the third quarter and went on to beat the Cherokees, 30-12, at James N. Monroe Stadium to secure the school’s third unbeaten ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Clobbers Grundy Co. For 7-AA Title

Notre Dame coach Charles Fant is always hoping that his Fighting Irish football team can get off to a fast start. He never thought it would be as quick as what he saw Thursday night at Jim Eberle Field. With a District 7-AA championship on the line on an evening when they honored all of the fall senior athletes, a football game turned into a track meet and eventually a victory ... (click for more)