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Tribute to Monty Cartwright

A president’s coach

It takes skill to be a coach of university students, more skill to be a great coach, and still more to be the coach of a university president. I know because I was the beneficiary of a truly great coach — Monty Cartwright.

When I was named president of Southern Oregon University, there were skeptics — as there will always be on such occasions — but the one sector that caused me real heartburn was the community of student athletes, coaches, fans and sports contributors. I was rescued from anxiety by my “coach,” Monty Cartwright.

Sizing me up correctly but respectfully, he suggested there was much I needed to learn and so proposed that we host at the president’s house a breakfast at the beginning of each semester where the head coaches could come and brief me on their seasons ahead, the strengths of their teams, the odds of winning and the events at which the president and his family should be present.

In his lovely and gentle style, Monty opened that first breakfast by thanking Kit and me, on behalf of the coaching staff, for our hospitality and for this opportunity to provide this “teaching moment.”

“President Reno, we know you want to support our athletes and so we want to help you do so. With respect, sir, you are a ‘recovering sports illiterate’ and we’re here to help you.”

I shall be forever grateful for Monty’s candor, perspicacity and loyalty. From him and from his coaches, student athletes and fans, I learned so much. Our family became sports event groupies, and it was always reassuring — indeed critically necessary for me personally — when Monty would come up at some point in a game and so kindly acknowledge our presence.

The university has lost a fine coach, a congenial colleague and a role model. May we honor his memory by emulating his values.

Stephen Reno, president emeritus, SOU

Hampton, New Hampshire

For more information, contact: Jeanne Stallman, Executive Director, Outreach and Engagement,

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