Steamboat Springs Most people never even knew his first name, but the lasting effect he had on the people he came across will live on forever at the Howelsen Hill tennis courts.
In a small ceremony Saturday, a bench and placard were dedicated to Clarence “Coach” Sterne. Sterne, who grew up in Mississippi, spent his last 17 years in Steamboat Springs before his death in November 2008 at age 74.
“We used to have great conversations,” said local ski patroller John “Pink” Floyd, noting that their Christian beliefs brought them even closer together. “We became very, very good friends.”
Sterne loved sports, particularly tennis and skiing. He coached tennis, cross-country and squash at Colorado College in the 1970s and got his sailing license in 2002.
He relished the courts at Howelsen Hill and was adamant about their maintenance.
He earned the nickname “Coach” through a life spent as a sports psychologist. Even in Steamboat, Sterne would lend a teaching hand to anyone who was interested.
“He worked with kids his whole life,” said Cresean Sterne, Coach’s son. “He was into water fitness, but he really loved tennis.”
Coach was born in 1934 in Pike County, Miss. He grew up in McComb, Miss., and attended Berglund High School, where he starred on the football field.
During his time in Steamboat he became known for his quick wit and sarcastic ways. He regularly made it to Steamboat Ski Area late in the afternoon and often would be found as ski patrollers scanned the mountain during their end-of-day sweep.
“There were many times I bumped into Coach when we were sweeping the mountain,” Floyd said. “He’d be talking with somebody or waiting to talk to me. We’d always have to jokingly tell him to get off of here before it was dark.”
Coach also spent much of his time traveling and contributing to charities such as World Vision, a group that helps sponsor underprivileged youths.
“Anybody that needed any kind of help, he was there,” Cresean Sterne said. “He was just one of those guys that was always there to help.”
— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com