Ashland, Ore. — Hundreds gathered in Ashland to remember Southern Oregon University head football coach Craig Howard who passed away last month.
The memorial was filled with both tears and laughter at Southern Oregon University’s Raider Stadium as everyone remembered the coach known for putting SOU on the map.
“Coach Howard changed my life in more ways than he could possibly imagine,” remembered athlete Tim Tebow, who is one among many who will forever remember Coach Howard.
Tebow played high school football for Coach Howard in Florida and says he carries Howard’s mantra of ‘character strength and honor’ through his day-to-day life.
“I still get to share what Coach Howard shared with me,” Tebow said.
Coach Howard’s impact was felt across the country and Tebow isn’t the only one who is still living his lessons.
Connor Astley recently graduated from Southern Oregon University. He had the privilege of winning the 2014 NAIA National Championship with Howard.
“We did all those things coach Howard preached about us – character, strength, honor, love. The more love and honor and respect the team has, the better,” Astley said.
Coach Howard was known as an exceptional coach as well as an exceptional man. Astley says it’s Howard’s love that makes so many aspire to be like him.
“He loved everybody equally and that’s the guy I wanna be like,” Astley said.
“He had character. He had love. I wish I were as good as he was,” former president of SOU Raider Club John Schweiger said.
A celebration of life was held directly after the memorial, as many said Coach Howard would have wanted.
NBC5 News Multimedia Journalist Elizabeth Ruiz was raised in Northern Colorado. She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Journalism and Media Communication. She also minored in Spanish and studied in Spain. While at Colorado State, she was an anchor and reporter for CTV Channel 11.
Elizabeth loves Zumba dancing, singing and spending time with her family.