John is a columnist and reporter for Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.

Gary Huber

Gary Huber has retired after 30-plus years as a coach and athletic director at Black Hawk College, Moline.

He is first-class, first-rate, above reproach, and caring.

He believes character, high standards, academics and doing things the right way produce positive results.

Today, after serving 29 years as a coach and athletic director at Black Hawk College in Moline, Gary Huber — one of life's true gems — is retired.

Well, kind of.

He is serving as the range assistant (he drives the cart that picks up balls) and cart monitor at Bettendorf's Palmer Hills Golf Course, working for former BHC golf standout Jon Waddell, the pro at Palmer Hills.

Huber is content where he stands, forever secure in his approach, always understanding of his mission.

He is a dedicated husband to Tandy, who just retired after teaching for 33 years at Bettendorf's Hoover Elementary; dad to Kaylee Huber, an elementary art teacher at Elzie D. Patton Elementary School at Mount Juliet, Tenn.; and dad to Keil Huber, a 2019 graduate of the University of Iowa who will attend law school at Nashville's Belmont University this fall.

He will also tell you — and get emotional talking about it — that the two years he spent as his son's golf coach were the two most fun years of his life.

"Greatest experience a dad and coach can have,'' Huber said, extolling the virtues of having an amazing wife and two great children. "Keil Huber, what a great young man to have on my team. I was going to step down from coaching golf around nine years ago. Who convinced me to stay? Keil Huber.

"He was a Bettendorf High School golfer. He looked at me one day and told me he wanted to play golf for me. I extended my coaching career for him and was fortunate to coach a few more teams after I coached him. Man, I overachieved in the wife and family department.''

Truth be told, Huber has overachieved many times over the past three decades, first as a successful baseball and golf coach, and also as an administrator. He even coached women's softball in the spring of this year.

His teams won, but more important, Black Hawk athletes under Huber's guidance were always held to a high academic and character standard. The 57-year-old Huber is as proud of the academic All-Americans and the 3.0-or- better team grade-point averages as he is of any on-field titles.

"Aside from my father, Gary Huber is the one other man who has had the biggest influence on my life,'' said BHC baseball coach Arnie Chavera, who has been named the school's interim athletic director. "He is a great man, a man we all can learn from and model how we carry ourselves. For 15 years I have had the pleasure to work for and alongside him.''

Ever the teacher, Huber was not afraid to go to great lengths to prove his teams could learn on the fly, adjust and adapt. He had no fear when driving home his point.

After an unsuccessful baseball game against Kirkwood Community College, Huber stopped the team vans on the way back to campus from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Donning catcher's gear in an open field at Walcott, Iowa, he threw 90 minutes of batting practice, encouraging batters to hit the ball up the middle.

"We needed to learn to hit to all fields,'' Huber said with a chuckle. "I told them if they could hit me, we could get better. And they did. And we did. And the catcher's equipment didn't protect me as much I wanted it to, but my point was made.''

Despite his success, it was never about Huber. Secure in his own skin, he knows it's always about the athletes, putting them in a position to have success and then sitting back and enjoying the ride.

"He is a once-in-a-lifetime coach,'' BHC golfer Shayne Shepherd said of Huber. "He inspired me and inspired many others along the way. He stays in the shadows, but when Coach Huber speaks, we need to be listening. He has had a long, successful and impactful career. He is a friend as well as a role model.''

Though a throwback on many fronts, Huber has always been progressive in his role as an administrator. He will remain an Illinois Region IV and National Junior College Athletic Association leader, serving on numerous high-profile committees.

"I'll continue to do some of that work,'' Huber said. "The CEO of the NJCAA is a wonderful leader with great vision and understanding.''

In the not too-distant future, the Hubers will enjoy a Disney vacation and walk a half-marathon. Coach Huber will brush up on his golf game and enjoy morning runs and his new gig at Palmer Hills. He will, whenever given the chance, talk about others rather than himself.

It is his nature.

"I will miss coaching with Mark Grchan, one of the best guys out there,'' Huber said. "My mother, Nancy Huber, my uncle Frank Chernak, my father-in-law, Herb Nieman, and guys like Rod Hill all had a huge influence on me. Those people I just mentioned always put others ahead of themselves.''

Many moments can define a successful career. For those who know Coach Huber, one incident in particular tell you the impact his guidance had on his athletes.

The BHC golf team was coming back from Arizona one spring, and Austin Jump, a member of squad, had already boarded the plane. An elderly woman was struggling to get situated, and Jump came to her rescue. Jump and the woman talked throughout the flight home, and then he helped her get on her way.

It was the kind of selfless act by a 19-year-old you don't often see. Several passengers from the flight turned to Huber and asked: "Is he yours?''

"It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it,'' Huber said. "That's the reason I have done what I have done all these years.''

And that's what Gary Huber is about. Three decades of doing things right.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.


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