After getting fired twice in 13 months, Tim Lester is now at his dream job

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 19, 2019 at 1:16 am Contact Andrew: aegraham@syr.edu | @A_E_Graham Tim Lester’s phone rang on a Friday and he was expecting the call. He was at home on the couch in West Lafayette, Indiana, with his wife, Dawn, and their 3-year-old son, Camden. His two older sons, Cooper and Carter, 7 and 5 years old at the time, were at school.It was January 2017 and a year ago, Lester was sloughed off the SU coaching staff payroll when Dino Babers took over for Scott Shafer. He chose to be the quarterbacks coach at Purdue but was similarly out of a job a year later. The Lesters were looking at their second relocation in 13 months.On the other end of the line was Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan’s athletic director, who offered Lester the head coaching position. She told Lester that he needed to be in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by 5:30 p.m. that evening so he could sign his yet-to-be-negotiated contract and meet with his new team at 6 p.m.“He looked at me and he gave me a thumbs-up,” Dawn said. “And then he got off the phone and he was like, ‘That’s it. I got it. We gotta go. Let’s go pack.’”Being the head coach at Western Michigan was Lester’s dream job when he played there as a quarterback in the 1990s. It was his dream, but he didn’t get the job in 2012 because he needed some more experience. And it was still a dream when he left Syracuse — where he returns for the first time as a head coach on Saturday — in 2015.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMaryland wanted him to coach wide receivers and Toledo offered him an offensive coordinator position, the same job he had at SU. Purdue needed a quarterbacks coach. Lester leaned toward keeping his job title. A conversation with his college coach, Gary Darnell, changed Lester’s perspective. Lester remembered Darnell asking him what his dream job was.“I’d love to be at Western when P.J. leaves,” Lester answered.“Well they’re never going to hire the offensive coordinator from Toledo,” Darnell said.Amy Nakamura | Co-Digital EditorAfter Lester got hired over the phone, he and Dawn briefly celebrated with Camden before hustling upstairs. They rapidly threw clothes into suitcases as Camden tried packing his stuffed animals.Dawn got behind the wheel and picked the older boys up from Burnett Creek Elementary. She decided not to take Interstate-94, using two-lane state highways. As Indiana faded into Michigan, Lester sat in the passenger seat, working his phone. He called his parents, he called friends and he called his agent, because between then and Lester’s arrival in Kalamazoo, they had to work out a contract.He also began writing a speech to his new his team that he’d meet at 6 p.m. that night. When the Lesters arrived, they dropped the kids at a hotel with Lester’s mother, Pat, before Lester put a pen to paper and made his five-year deal at Western Michigan official.He went to meet the team while Dawn went to check on the kids. Later, she met her husband at a recruiting event. Just hours after signing his contract, a day before the announcement was even public, he bowled with 13 recruits, already trying to build the program he’d just took charge of.Dawn found the whole day — the call, the rush out the door and the immediate dive into the job — all surreal. That morning she woke up in Indiana, took the kids to school and had no reason to expect her day would unfold as it had.“It was just a whirlwind of a day,” Dawn said.His new experience and close proximity made him a worthy successor to P.J. Fleck, WMU’s departing coach. And on a January afternoon in the passenger seat of his white Chevrolet Suburban, Lester went from unemployed for the second time in a year to holding the position he had coveted for 20-plus years.“This has been my dream job since when I played here,” Lester said. “I love this place. This is my goal.”Though he took a demotion in title and pay to go to Purdue from Syracuse, he moved closer to his goal, closer to his home in Illinois, coaching at a Division I program. And like Darnell said to him, if he went and had a good year with quarterback David Blough, whom Lester tried to get at SU, that’d put him on the radar as a potential head coach.Blough threw for 3,352 yards in 2016, third in the Big Ten that season. But Purdue finished 3-9 and head coach Darrell Hazell, along with his staff, were out the door. Lester began to look for other jobs.“We got fired,” Lester said, “but we almost led the Big Ten in passing, which allowed me to get this job.”When Fleck left for Minnesota after the 2017 Cotton Bowl, Lester hung onto offers to be a coordinator in the Atlantic Coast Conference and a quarterbacks coach for a ranked team. But he wanted to wait it out and see if the job at WMU opened up. He finally had the experience he lacked before when he didn’t get the job in 2012.While Lester addressed his team the night of his signing, Dawn drove past Waldo Stadium on her way to see the kids. It all set in when she saw a message on the video boards in bright, bold letters.It read: “Welcome home Tim Lester.” Commentslast_img read more

AFCON 2021 Qualifiers: South Africa arrive in Ghana for November 14 clash

first_imgThe South African national team, Bafana Bafana, has arrived in Ghana ahead of their AFCON 2021 Qualifiers in Cape Coast on Thursday, November 14.The team landed in Accra on Monday night and headed straight for Cape Coast and begin preparations for the match.The contingent is made up of 25 players and the technical team led by Molefi Ntseki.They made a change to the playing body with Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Lebogang Manyama replacing the injured Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns.With South Africa playing their next qualifier on Sunday, November 17 against Sudan, they will head back to Accra on Friday morning and fly to Johannesburg for the the Sudan match.Below is the full South Africa team for the Ghana clash:Goalkeeper: Darren Keet (Leuven FC, Belgium), Ronwen Williams (SS Utd), Ricardo Goss (Bidvest Wits).Defenders: Erick Mathoho (Chiefs), S’fiso Hlanti, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo (Wits), Thapelo Morena, Mosa Lebusa (Sundowns), Innocent Maela (Pirates), Thamsanqa Mkhize (CT City).Midfielders: Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford), Bongani Zungu (Amiens), Thato Mokeke (CT City), Dean Furman, Aubrey Modiba (SS), Lebo Phiri (Guigamp), Mothobi Mvala (Highlands Park),  Lebogang Manyama (Kaizer Chiefs), Thembinkosi Lorch (Pirates), Percy Tau, (Club Brugge), Thulani Serero (Al Jazira).Strikers: Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg, France), Bradley Grobler (Supersport United), Kermit Erasmus ( CT City).last_img read more

Lakers mourn longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager

first_imgWalton said Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell “looked good” on Thursday in his first full practice since injuring his left knee. Before his return, Russell only competed in games of two-on-two and three-on-three as well as shooting and pool exercises. “By the end, he was much more active,” Walton said. “He was playing his point position more effectively and efficiently by the end of practice.”The Lakers have not determined if Russell will play on Friday without a minutes restriction. Fine printThe NBA and the league’s players association agreed to a new seven-year labor deal that will involve fewer exhibition games and back-to-back contests. “The four (games) in five nights are much more of an issue when you’re talking about helping a key player get healthy,” Walton said. “You get hurt when you’re fatigued or they have you fly across the country and play a game.” Injury update Though Walton said Lakers reserve forward Tarik Black was “definitely limping,” he participated in a full practice without any reported setbacks. Black said his right ankle is “getting better,” though it’s unclear of his return. Lakers reserve guard Jose Calderon spent Thursday’s practice completing sprints between 60 to 70 percent speed and individual shooting drills. If he has no setbacks with his right hamstring on Friday, Calderon will complete running deals at a faster speed and shooting exercises with more movement.Walton granted reserve guard Lou Williams an excused absence from practice for personal reasons. The Lakers described Sager in other glowing terms after being a part of Turner’s NBA coverage for 26 years. “Craig was a great reporter, a wonderful person, and an absolute joy to work with,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “He put up a valiant and courageous fight, but unfortunately, cancer won. He will be terribly missed, and our condolences go out to Craig’s family and his many friends.”Several Lakers players tweeted their condolences about Sager’s passing, including Lou Williams, Nick Young, Luol Deng and Jose Calderon. Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver described Sager “as vital to the NBA as the players and coaches” and “a true original and an essential voice.”“Craig chronicled some of the most memorable moments in league history and was a ubiquitous presence with his splashy suits and equally colorful personality,” Silver said in a statement. “Craig earned widespread respect for his insightful reporting and inspired so many most recently with his courage.”Talking about practice Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img PHILADELPHIA >> Whenever Luke Walton turned on a nationally televised NBA game, the Lakers coach did not just tune in to watch a star player or scout an opponent. Walton also wanted to see sideline reporter Craig Sager. “Part of the fun and entertainment of what we do is seeing Craig in his crazy suits. He was phenomenal at his job,” Walton said. “He brought something every night he was on TV.”So it hardly sounded surprising the Lakers and the NBA family reacted in mourning on Thursday over the passing of Sager, who had spent the past two years fighting cancer. All NBA teams will observe a moment of silence in Sager’s memory, including when the Lakers (10-18) play the Philadelphia 76ers (6-19) on Friday at Wells Fargo Center. “I can’t imagine how hard that has got to be, to put on that face and come and do the job that you love knowing that you’re not at your best,” Walton said. “You’re still out there fighting that fight and not letting it beat you. He’s not just staying home all day. He’s out there still living his life as long as he can. It’s incredible. He’s a strong, strong man.” last_img read more