The extraordinary is many times accomplished by dedication to doing the ordinary day after day, practice after practice. Coach Allan Trimble has achieved the extraordinary by doing just that. As a member of the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame and winner of 13 Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) football state championships, 15 district championships and 224 games in more than 21 years as the football coach at Jenks (Oklahoma) High School, Trimble has found that a strong commitment to doing the ordinary has led to a lifetime of extraordinary memories.
The irony in this story is that the man responsible for bringing out the extraordinary in his players is slowly losing his ability to do the ordinary. Trimble was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which translated from Greek literally means, “No muscle nourishment.” Coach Trimble and his family, friends, colleagues and current and former players know what this diagnosis means. The trophies lining the hallway of Jenks High School commemorating the extraordinary accomplishments of Coach Trimble’s teams will remain, but his ability to do even the most ordinary of things will slowly fade.
Trimble’s approach to his diagnosis is no different than how he approaches life: build a solid foundation, put in the work and enjoy the journey. The strong foundation of faith, family, education and football are the four priorities in which Jenks Football operates. Coach Trimble explained, “We believe the order of our priorities is vital and that these foundations lead to better performance in the classroom and on the playing field.”
Faith is defined as an allegiance to duty or to others. Jenks High School football is built upon this principle and exemplified by the players’ commitment to each other. Trimble describes the Jenks football philosophy of faith in this manner: “We believe in ourselves. We believe each other. We believe in the team. We believe in our system, and we believe strongly in developing unity.” Trimble does not just preach this philosophy, but feels it is essential to put his players in position to both build and test the limits of their faith.
Family follows faith as the next layer of foundation for Trimble’s teams. Family is not defined by only the brotherhood of teammates and mentorship of coaches, but also by the commitment of football families and the entire Jenks community.
“We try and make families with weekly meals separate and apart from practice. We also are very fortunate to serve a great community who love their football program and support [us] in many different ways,” Trimble said. Only after faith and family are prioritized can the football field be transformed into Coach Trimble’s classroom.
Education-based athletics is where Trimble found success early on, and he never felt the pull to leave despite his immense success. Trimble’s calling to be a teacher and coach was strengthened as he realized that the football field could be one of the most effective classrooms.
“The game of football teaches great life lessons, and now more than ever young men need to understand the value and the meaning of having to earn things through difficult times,” Trimble said. “These attributes will pay big dividends in the future of our society.”
Once the foundation was laid for Jenks High School football, it was time to put in the work. “When you invest as much time, effort, energy and heart into a project as we do, members of our program become very driven because they have an ownership in the project and they want to see it succeed,” Trimble said. This dedication to putting in the work has created a community of stakeholders which has led to consistent success for the Jenks football program. Tradition is built when, “each class wants to live up to the tradition and success of the previous class and raise the bar for the next class to come.”
As Trimble continues to prepare his players for games this season, there is an understanding in the urgency to enjoy the blessings as much as he enjoys the beauty of the work. In reflecting on lessons learned through football, Trimble says, “I think the biggest thing I’ve learned about life is that I am not in control of it, as hard as we work and as much time and planning as we put in, it’s simply not about me.” The reminder to be humble and selfless in the face of adversity has not been taken for granted by Trimble, as he states, “There will be setbacks and problems on a daily basis, so don’t be surprised or shocked when they knock on your door.”
For Coach Trimble, that knock was ALS. While his body starts to suffer the effects of the disease, his spirit is strengthened by the four priorities in his life: faith, family, education and football.
The extraordinary impact that Trimble has had on countless athletes and coaches was recognized by the Jenks community this fall when the school renamed its football field to reflect the living legacy of its coach. With his two daughters and wife by his side, Trimble watched as a sign was unveiled reading “Allan Trimble Stadium” in front of the community that has supported him and continues to support him through all of his personal and professional victories and defeats. This was one of those moments Trimble spoke of when he said, “My goal now is to try and enjoy the journey more.”
What good is achieving the extraordinary if you don’t take the time to sit back and appreciate all of the ordinary?
Lindsey Atkinson is director of sports/communications associate at the National Federation of State High School Associations.