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For Nebraska-bound football coach, achieving every goal wasn’t enough

ALVA, Okla. (BP)–Tim Albin achieved every coach’s dream last December. His team won a national championship.

The victory was just the completion of another goal for the 34-year-old Northwestern Oklahoma State University head football coach, who said he has set goals all his life and worked hard to achieve them.

“A big goal of mine was to graduate from college,” said the 1989 Northwestern graduate who earned a bachelor of science degree after being named first team all-Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference receiver for three years and becoming the third-leading receiver in Northwestern history.

“Then I wanted to get a master’s degree,” Albin recounted. He received a master of education degree from Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Okla., in 1991.

“Next I wanted to be a full-time college coach,” he continued. Following graduation, Albin joined the staff at Northeastern, coaching the football team’s receivers.

“I wanted to move to offensive coordinator,” he said, and was promoted to offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Northeastern in 1991.

“Then I wanted to be a head coach,” he acknowledged. After returning to Northwestern in 1994 as offensive coordinator, Albin was promoted to head football coach in 1997.

Although achieving the goals he set for himself, he felt something was missing.

“I woke up one morning after completing my first season as head football coach, and said, ‘There’s got to be more than this,'” he said. “I was 32 years old and began to wonder, ‘How long is this going to go on?'”

Albin said he walked into First Baptist Church, Alva, the first Sunday after Christmas in 1997 and sat on the back row.

“As a kid, the few times I went to church, it was at First Baptist, Woodward,” he said of the church in his hometown. “But it was never an important part of my life.”

In Alva, the coach continued to go to church every Sunday he was in town, and one day the pastor Buddy Hunt came to Albin’s office for a visit.

“We had a good visit,” Albin admitted. “Then a couple of days later, I went to his house during lunch and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

“When I walked into that church, I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I found it,” Albin declared. He made his profession of faith known on Easter Sunday, 1998, and was baptized the following week.

Albin, who resigned as Northwestern’s head coach Feb. 14 to accept a position as tight ends coach at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, said life is not about him anymore, and not about wins and losses as a coach.

“I have a sense of purpose and well-being,” he noted. “I’m of a much different temperament now.”

He said he believes his players also sense a difference in him.

“We’ve always prayed before games, but that time has taken on a different meaning for me,” he said.

When the team gathers at the beginning of every semester, Albin said he tells the players their top priorities are family, religion, education and athletics.

“I don’t rank the first three, but I tell them athletics is fourth,” he said. “That doesn’t change. I’m not going to allow the fifth, sixth or seventh thing to interfere with those four.”

He said if a player’s girlfriend is number five, and she’s interfering with number three, which is education, he’s going to get involved.

“If their nightlife is number five, and it’s interfering with class attendance, I’m going to get involved,” he said. “There are four priorities they need to get straight.”

Albin said he tells the players that life is going to deal them some unfair things, “but how we choose to react to them will determine what kind of parent we are going to be, what kind of husband, what kind of player, what kind of worker, what kind of student. Just making the right choices will help us learn to play the game of life. That’s Tim Albin’s philosophy to his team.”

The Northwestern Rangers were 5-5 in Albin’s first season, 7-3 in his second, and finished the 1999 season with a perfect 13-0 record. The 34-26 defeat of the Georgetown (Ky.) College Tigers in the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) national championship game in Savannah, Tenn., brought the first national championship in any sport to Northwestern, and it brought the honor of NAIA coach of the year to Albin.

“Once you’ve won the national championship, you’re probably expected to do it every year,” laughed Albin. “Those things are hard to come by.”

Albin, who serves on the NAIA All-American Selection Committee, said the goal of every football team should be to reach its potential.

“You want your football team to play to the best of its ability, not just win or lose,” Albin pointed out. “You can have a 9-1 season, which I would take every year, but if your team is not playing up to its potential, the coach is frustrated.”

Albin said a big step in his faith came a few weeks ago when he gave his testimony at Men’s Day at First Baptist, Alva.

“Several of my players attended the services, and that meant a lot to me.”

Personal goals, Albin said, are not as important to him as they once were.

“In my prayer time, which I have daily in the morning before I leave the house, I ask for strength to be a good Christian leader,” he said. “I’m not trying to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and win the Super Bowl. My whole life has changed, in the fact I want to work hard and see where the Lord points me.”

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  • Dana Williamson