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It's been an honor covering Dan Howlett's soccer teams

Apr 24, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

"Respect" is the word that comes to mind when thinking about Lander Valley High School boys soccer coach Dan Howlett.

In the past 11 years, I have had the honor of working with Howlett while covering the Tigers during soccer season.

Howlett has helped teach me the details of soccer. He has given me many lessons offsides, about indirect and direct kicks, and other things.

One of the first state soccer tournaments I covered took place in Cody. On that trip, I just happened to be in the same hotel as the Lander team.

That's when I started to understand Howlett better.

He had the respect of his players, and he always made me feel comfortable being around the Lander Tigers on that trip.

Lander lost a heartbreaker on the soccer field that year, back when there was just one division for soccer in the state.

Since Lander was put in the Class 3-A division for soccer, Howlett has kept his soccer team a title contender.

Every year, Howlett is positive about the Tigers. He always believes Lander is going to be in the hunt for a state title.

Most of the time, he's is right.

Cody, Jackson, Buffalo and Lander are right up there every year trying to claim the crown. Howlett has never won it, but it hasn't been because he didn't spend extra hours in watching film or studying his opponents.

Howlett always has top-notch goalkeepers saving bullets in all types of conditions.

This year, the coach is working with freshman goalkeeper Abe Lowham after senior Jess Oldham went down with a season-ending knee injury during the Class 3-A West regional tournament in Mountain View.

After being on the job since 1988, Howlett has decided this will be his final season at the helm for the Tigers.

I know he has been thinking about hanging it up for a couple of years. He already is retired from teaching at Lander.

On Tuesday, Coach Howlett was on the field for the final time against the Riverton Wolverines.

It was only fitting that the Tigers edged the Wolverines 3-1 at the Lander soccer field.

There was emotion for Howlett during the match and after the victory capped in by the Tigers. Senior Kyle Leemon said it the best after the match: He wanted to win it for coach Howlett.

Leemon scored all three goals for the Tigers.

A perfect ending for Howlett would be coaching Lander to a state championship next month in Jackson.

It may happen or it may not, but Dan Howlett is a coaching icon in Wyoming soccer.

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