Harlan County sports community remembers long-time coach Bob Howard

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Published: May. 6, 2023 at 4:54 PM EDT
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EVARTS, Ky. (WYMT) - Harlan Countian Bob Howard made an impact through many generations and multiple walks of life in Southeast Kentucky.

For the all-time wins leader in KHSAA boys basketball history, Howard was a great friend at an early age.

”Bob and I went to school together from middle school, all the way through high school, and remained friends all through life, but he was really a special person, had a great gift for art, loved sports,” retired basketball coach Billy Hicks said.

His love for track and cross country sports were next to none in the county.

Howard started the track program at Evarts High School, and even though they practiced in a nearby parking lot, his teams often competed at a high level.

“If you ever think about track, you know in Evarts or in Harlan County, his name’s gonna come up,” said Scott Russell, who ran track for Howard and broke records as a football player at Evarts High School, said.

The long-time coach loved people even more than sports, which was a big reason why his teams were successful.

“Anything that you ever needed, he was one that would be there no matter what. Even though in past years, that’s been however long ago, I graduated in 1992, but still just last week, we saw him at a track meet, and he and I sat there and talked like we were still in high school together,” Scott Russell said.

Those conversations were filled with positive energy that Howard brought towards everything in life.

“He was very well spoken and, Bob, he was a high energy guy. He had lots of energy, and he had that gift for expressing himself,” Billy Hicks said.

Even for some of the most successful Kentuckians in high school sports, Howard was a hero.