Special to the Times
They called him the “Don”. Don Matthews, was a larger-than-life character with a sharp wit who thrived in the spotlight, with his no-nonsense style. The Hall of Famer, who died Wednesday at the age of 77, was one of the most prolific coaches in Canadian Football League’s history with 231 wins and 10 Grey Cups on his resume.
The Toronto Argonauts said he died Wednesday morning in Beaverton, Ore. He had announced in 2012 he was battling cancer. Don Matthews had ties to White Pine County though from many years ago. Matthews first came to White Pine County in the Fall of 1965 to become an Assistant Football Coach for the White Pine High School Football Team. Richard Howe said “ I remember the first time I saw him I was a scrawny Freshman going out for the Freshman Football team, we had all been told about the new coach. He drove into the gate at the City Park, drove around the track in a red MG, then a larger than life man stepped out, I still don’t know how he fit into that small car”. Little did many of the students realize that in a few short years Matthews would turn White Pine High School’s Football team into the most powerful team in Nevada’s AA division. Coach Matthews had a special talent for getting the most out of every player no matter their level of skills. Matthews was the Physical Education Instructor for the high school and he was able to assess every students athletic ability. Howe remembers Coach Matthews doing whatever it took to get a student to try out for the football team, whether it meant going to the pool hall to recruit, or visiting the students at their homes. Matthews was very passionate about football. Howe said while Coach Matthews was coaching, “he was also teaching the players life lessons that would stay with many of them for the rest of their lives”. “What he did for all us in White Pine who were lucky enough to have been part of his early coaching career is legendary for many of us”, said Howe.