Reflections on the legend of the Silver Fox

Matthew Fogarty, Author

Paly Athletic Director and football coach Earl Hansen was named ESPN RISE Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year for the 2010 football season. Hansen led the Vikings to an undefeated 14-0 season.
Paly Athletic Director and football coach Earl Hansen rides in the state championship parade following a perfect 2010 campaign.  Hansen, pictured above, announced his retirement in a team meeting Monday. He was named ESPN RISE Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year for the 2010 football season, when he led his team to a perfect 14-0 record.

As Earl Hansen, head football coach, athletic director and physical education teacher, announces his retirement, we, staff writers and varsity football players Malcolm Davis and Matthew Fogarty, would like to take a moment to reflect on the legacy he has left.

Over our four years at Palo Alto High School, coach Earl Hansen has left a legacy of both maturity and knowledge with us and our teammates that we would like to share with the greater Paly community.

Perhaps the most recognizable figure in the Palo Alto High School sports community, Hansen has inspired those around him to reach their goals through hard work, preparation and an old school attitude.  By demanding respect and hard work, Hansen molded immature boys into men.

We would like to separately recognize Hansen’s impacts on us and share our appreciation for the lifelong lessons we were so lucky to learn from him.

Malcolm Davis:

Being a member of the varsity football team for three years, Hansen has taught me many lessons about life.

Hansen has always preached about how hard work and quality practice will determine your football career. He believes in the idea that the quality of your practice determines how you play in the games. This philosophy has stuck with me. I realized that when you just go through the motions rather than putting in your all, you cheat yourself of the experience you could really be gaining.

From the outside, Hansen can seem like an impenetrable figure with a one-track mind. But once you get to know him, he is one of the most lovable guys around. He is very wise, and has a great sense of humor to complement his wisdom. He has been involved with sports for a long time and is more knowledgeable in what he does than any man I have ever met.

Even though my senior season did not turn out the way that some of us may have wanted, I’m very proud to have been coached by this legendary man in his last season, and I hope that he remembers us in the same manner.

Matthew Fogarty:

Hansen didn’t always like me. I can remember a specific time when I was acting immature and he called me out like no other adult figure at Paly had ever done before. It was intimidating and scary for me, and in return I began to show more respect for him. He then began to realize I wasn’t so bad.

When I decided to play football my senior year, Hansen proved to be an even more powerful influence in my life. He was always there to coach me, whether it was before practice, during practice, or off the field as a member of the community.

I sincerely thank him for that day, as it changed the way I approached adults and teachers, now with more respect and appreciation.

Although sometimes Hansen can be quite blunt, he will be completely honest with you about what you need to work on. I, the placekicker, can especially attest to that statement. As I would step back two steps, then to the left two steps in preparation to kick he would call me “mush brain” or say “you won’t hit another one.” While some might not understand his technique, those who know Hansen would agree that he was preparing me mentally for a game with some added comedy.

As our team was plagued by injury this past season, everyone had to play a role that they hadn’t earlier in the year. For the final two games of the year I had to play tight end. If I had any other coach I wouldn’t have done it. Coach Hansen told me he believed in me, and instilled a confidence in me like he has done for so many others.

When the senior class ended its final season, we looked back and wished we could have done more. For the amount of time and work that Hansen put in, many of us felt like we had let him down with our close losses and mediocre 6-6 finishing record.

But the reality is that we were inspired by him to lay everything out on the field every Friday night. We simply came up short a few times.

As a player and simply a member of the Palo Alto community, I am blessed to have been taught by a legend, “The Silver Fox,” Earl Hansen.