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A coach’s real success Faith and humility define the life of Oklahoma's most celebrated coach, s

Faith and humility define the life of Oklahoma's most celebrated coach, still coaching with ALS

By Murray Evans

JENKS, Okla. — When Jenks High School went looking for a football coach in 1996, the large district in suburban Tulsa took a chance on a former assistant coach with no head-coaching experience — one who had just left the profession and moved to Kansas to pursue a career in the oil industry.

Even then, something stuck out about Allan Trimble.

Allan Trimble

“He’s so humble, he truly doesn’t fully grasp it,” said Mitch Wilburn, preaching minister for the Park Plaza Church of Christ in Tulsa and a close friend of Trimble, who is an elder of the congregation. “To Allan, he’s just Allan. He doesn’t get that he’s Allan Trimble. That’s just part of the charm.”

Trimble’s aw-shucks demeanor belies the fact he’s the most successful coach in Oklahoma prep football history. His Jenks Trojans have 13 state titles and a 235-36 record entering the 2017 season. There’s hardly a coaching award that Trimble hasn’t won.

But there’s little doubt his career is winding down. This season is the second for the 54-year-old Trimble since he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the former New York Yankees great who died from the condition. It’s an incurable, progressive neurogenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

About 6,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with the condition, according to the ALS Association. Only half of those with the disease live three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more and up to 10 percent will live more than 10 years.

Upon receiving the diagnosis, Trimble initially decided to retire, but he and his wife, Courtney, soon changed their minds.

“We kind of settled in on, as long as God is blessing me with this platform … that probably that’s where we should be, while we can still be there,” Allan Trimble said. “I think the Lord is carrying me through this, along with my wife. I have a lot of great friends who help me. It will be interesting to see where it goes.”

‘The little things’ mean more

That humble, servant attitude was evident during Trimble’s days as a college football player at Northeastern State University, said Oklahoma Christian University President John deSteiguer, who lived in the same dorm as Trimble and engaged him in many a competitive ping-pong match.

Trimble was able to connect with a wide range of people on the NSU campus, deSteiguer said, and was “kind and spiritual and always had time for folks” — qualities that have served him well in his roles as a coach and elder.