Lohuis lauded for character
For The Madera Tribune
When anyone talked to Mark Lohuis, they couldn’t miss his country accent, but they also couldn’t miss his passion for kids and teaching them to do the right thing.
The Madera athletics community will miss his passion and coaching. Lohuis passed away last Monday after a months-long illness.
I would hear stories of his students from Mark and at the end of the day, it was all about teaching the kids to do the right thing. Some of the fun times I had with Mark was just listening to him tell stories, especially during times when I was a substitute teacher and his class was with mine. Those were good times. Also, the times last year listening to stories, and he and Eddie Durham trying to make me laugh while trying to announce Madera South football games.
I will remember Mark for being an upstanding coach doing what he could to make the lives of his athletes better. He was always the one sending me a text, voice mail or email to highlight how his athletes did. His athletes deserved to get recognized and he made sure he did.
During his tenure at Madera, which I learned he began at the Madera County Superintendent of Schools, he coached freshman football, freshman basketball, varsity baseball and boys and girls golf. He may have coached more, but we’re still finding that out.
The Madera Tribune asked some of his “bosses” for a tribute. Lohuis and Madera Unified School District Director of Athletics Marty Bitter began at Madera South at the same time. Lohuis was also Madera High School’s Athletic Director John Fernandez’s right-hand man while coaching the Madera South baseball team. And, he was Madera South Athletic Director Andrea Devine’s go-to person until this year.
The family will be hosting a Celebration of Life Memorial Dinner for Lohuis on oct. 8 at 5 p.m. at Clovis Missionary Baptist Church (894 N. Fowler).
MUSD Director of Athletics, Marty Bitter
I began coaching boys basketball in Madera in 1994 with then head coach Brian Tessler. That is where I met Coach Lohuis, who at that time, was coaching Freshman Football, Freshman basketball and Varsity Baseball. This was a time when it was not uncommon for Coach Lohuis to have over 100 players on the freshman football team. That, alone, speaks to the person he was. Students were attracted to his programs because of the leader he was. The best part about it was, if you are a parent, Coach Lohuis is the exact person you would want your child to be coached by. He not only knew the techniques and strategies, but he also taught the most important items sports teaches, like discipline, leadership, grit, ethics and how to become a quality young man or lady.
When we opened up Madera South, he coached football and baseball and did this for the first eight years. He stepped away from coaching football after about three years, but stayed involved by running the scoreboard for all of our football games. This is not easy to do and must be done by someone who understands football and the officials’ signals so starting and stopping the clock are done correctly. After year eight, he stepped away from baseball and moved over to help his close friend Edward Durham with the girls and boys golf teams. They have been a great pair and have introduced so many students to a game they would have never tried otherwise.
The most vivid story I have of Mark was when he was on the clock for football games. As an athletic director, your job is to manage the game so everything from tickets, snack bar, players, officials and spectators have a wonderful experience. Once we got through the National Anthem, an Athletic Director could rest somewhat as the game would begin and then things would flow. My last cause for panic every game at Memorial Stadium as I stared at the flag was seeing the game clock out of my right eye continue to run. I’d glance up at the press box a couple of times wondering if Mark was paying attention or if we were going to have this loud horn go off right in the middle of the National Anthem. Coach Lohuis, to my despair, always had it under control because to him it was a competition to see how close he could get that clock to 00.00 before he would shut it off! We would all get a good laugh out of it and there were a couple of times that clock would read 00.01. He would cut it that close.
Over his teaching and coaching career, there is no telling how many students came in contact with coach Lohuis or how many lives he changed, but we do know that when we get into education, we don’t get in to this profession to make a lot of money. We get into it to have an impact on students, families and communities.
We know Mark is in a better place and can be so proud of the positive impact he made and the legacy he left.
RIP Coach Lohuis.
Madera South Athletics Director, Andrea Devine
Mark Lohuis was one of our golf coaches and head of our PE department. Mark would come into my office every morning and usually pace around in front of my desk and say something like, “Well, we only have five golfers today because they all had things they had to do at home, but we will get it done. That’s what we do! It will be alright!” And, he would walk out with a smile on his face.
Mark was always the guy who did the right thing and said the right thing. He was good through and through. He made you want to be a better person because he would never let anything stop him from getting the job done. He taught our kids integrity, respect, fairness, and sportsmanship. He was also our clock keeper for football for the past 12-plus years. His commitment to our kids and our school was unmatched. He was valued on so many levels. I was honored to work with him and call him a friend. I miss him every day.
Madera Athletics Director John Fernandez
Since the age of 14, I have been blessed and honored to have Mark Lohuis in my life! I first met Coach Lohuis as a freshman at Madera High School back in 1987/1988 school year. He was completing his student teaching under the guidance of then PE Coach Wayne “Corky” Napier. It was here that Coach Lohuis made his first and lifelong lasting impression on me. Two years later, he became my baseball pitching coach and he proceeded to take me under his wing and guide me through some of the toughest years that young men experience. He mentored me and provided meaningful advice that complimented everything that my parents instilled in me.
When I returned to begin a career in coaching, he — again — took me under his wing and taught me me more beyond the game of baseball and coaching, but, more importantly, about what it meant to be a man of service. When Madera South opened, it was he who told me, “Hey Ferny, let’s go start something new.” With his blessing and him by my side, that is exactly what we did and I loved every year and season we spent together!
Coach Lohuis was a strong believer in his faith and believed that those who educated and those who were placed in trusting positions like those of teachers and coaches had an obligation to mentor and create environments where children could flourish and grow. Like any coach, Coach Lohuis was also a competitor within, yet he also saw the benefits of failure and how one had the opportunity to inspire during these moments. With his wisdom and nurturing demeanor, he was able to inspire so many student/athletes and used his teachings to demonstrate the realities of life.
He was a man of integrity and was passionate about his chosen profession and his faith. He always found a way to connect with students and with families. He was a man that had a trusting component that many responded to and took grab of his caring heart. Coach Lohuis was compassionate and always saw the good and beauty in every person, even when confrontation took place. His heart for his follow man was enormous and he always seeked ways so that others could find comfort during their life struggles.
For three-plus generations, Coach Mark Lohuis impacted the lives of children in our greater community. He left a legacy that reached out far beyond his own knowledge. Since his passing, the notes of condolences that have been received span the 30-plus years he dedicated himself to our school district and to the children of Madera.
Though we know he was taken from us far too soon, we also know that he would want all of us to find comfort. He will always live in our hearts and in our minds. He was a gift to us all and I was one of those who was fortunate enough to be inspired for 34 years!
I will never forget his teaching nor his love. Though there will be others who will enter our lives throughout our own lifetime, there will never be another Coach Lohuis!
God Bless you Coach!