Gathered for a recent meeting were, from left, Steve Denman, Patrick Snyder and George Novinger.

Courtesy of Phyllis Belcher

Kiwanis members always look forward to a meeting when Steve Denman addresses the group. This year was no exception, and it marked his last year as head football coach at Tehachapi High School.

Everyone knows that Denman has received widespread recognition as a winning coach. However, he never mentioned this feat or the widespread praise it generated during a talk with Kiwanis. Instead, he talked about his fellow coaches, Dennis Ruggles, Bill Carll and Patrick Snyder, and repeatedly recalled how much fun they had coaching together. This Denman coaching team is now dissolving because Ruggles and Carll are retiring from their long careers as coaches, and Snyder is leaving the area.

In addition to having a dedicated team of coaches, Denman credited the "great kids" in Tehachapi and the supportive school administration for anything he may have achieved.

Football is important to the school because it teaches life skills, Denman said. When a team learns to focus and develops discipline, commitment and a strong work ethic, this builds a strong foundation for winning.

There are about 150 students who participate in the football program at Tehachapi High School, which includes the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams. They learn that life is not just about themselves. They learn to work together and give back to the community. They have helped lay sod at several schools and at Warrior Park. They have helped set up and take down tables and chairs at various functions. They have helped at the GranFondo.

Several Kiwanis members recalled the good experience their sons had playing football under Denman. They said he was the most giving football coach there is and one of the best in California. Kiwanis members gave the four coaches a standing ovation.

Kiwanis meets each Wednesday at noon at Big Papas. The club is seeking new members and welcomes anyone to visit a meeting and see if they might be interested in joining. Call 822-5379 for information.

Phyllis Belcher is a long time Tehachapi resident, and is involved in various volunteer organizations.