Hall of Fame Class of 2010
When you think of the sport of track and field at Mariner High School, you will end up hearing the name Howard Price. He built the program. If you ask about Coach Price, you will hear about the important influence he had on the student athletes he coached before you hear about his outstanding coaching achievements. Howard Price is a coach that will never be defined by statistics and records alone. Coach Price is described as being a great motivator who approached coaching track from the team perspective. In his coaching, he constantly emphasized that if, as an athlete and a team, “we” take care of the important things, then winning will take care of itself. The important things to Coach Price were character, integrity, discipline and a strong work ethic. His athletes said that Coach Price was able to get them to truly believe in what they could accomplish. Many of his former athletes will tell you that when he told you what he believed you could do, he believed it completely himself without doubt or reservation. Coach Price’s true magic was in getting his athletes to believe in their potential with the same unwavering faith in which he believed in them and on his teams, that kind of attitude tended to spread everywhere.
Howard Price was raised in Edmonds where he attended Edmonds High School. He placed second in the 880 yard race as a senior at the 1954 state championship meet. Following high school, he attended the University of Washington for a year. After that year, he joined the Navy where he became an operating room technician in Naval hospitals in San Diego and Guam. While in the Navy, he continued to keep fit by swimming and running. In the spring of 1959 he competed in an all Navy track and field meet in Guam where he won the 880 and mile with times that were the fastest official times run by any serviceman in the Far East in those events. It was an exceptional achievement that led him to future attempts to meet the Olympic trials qualifying standard later that year. He didn’t meet the standard but it was the simple enjoyment of training himself in his spare time, sometimes in the jungles of Guam, that he loved. Coach Price spoke of once running in a mile race in the late 50’s in which Sir Roger Bannister was competing. After completing his military service, Coach Price received a full track scholarship from Western Washington University. It was at that time that he had just met his future wife, Mary, and it became more important for him to pursue her than to train for track. They married in 1961 after which he concentrated on finishing his BA in education at Western. He majored in physical education. Upon his graduation in 1965, he was hired by the Mukilteo School District to teach and coach at Olympic View Junior High. In 1971, he began at Mariner High School. He served as the head track and field coach and the head cross country until 1994. After leaving coaching, he remained as the head of the PE department until he retired at the age of 65 in 2001.
Mariner was the first high school built in the Mukilteo school district. As the first coach, Howard Price took the program from completely new to becoming one of the dominant programs in the WESCO conference in the late 1970’s and arguably the most consistently dominant for much of the 1980’s. Coaching was Price’s passion. Keeping career statistics was not. His track program was strong and disciplined. The Mariner Boy’s Team was known during the late 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s as one of the most difficult teams to beat in the Western Conference, both in dual meets and championship meet competitions. He never kept count of his wins and losses or the individual success of his athletes over the years. With the help of his WESCO colleagues, we know that Mariner won seven WESCO titles between 1982 and 1989. Mariner’s last WESCO title under Coach Price came in 1992. Numerous athletes he coached qualified and placed at the state meet as did numerous athletes win and place in the WESCO Championship meet. Along with Mariner’s boy’s teams many WESCO Championships, he coached two state champion 4x400m teams in 1983 and 1984 that rank in the top 30 of all time. Coach Price’s two relay teams are the only state champions in Mariner school history. While his athletes regularly qualified for the state meet, the peak years of the Mariner program at the state level came in the early to mid 1980’s. His 1983 team lost the team title by two points with the entire meet coming down to the 4x400m relay. One of the proud achievements from that state meet was a relay split run by James Cowan in the anchor leg on the 1983 team. Twenty meters behind when he received the baton, Cowan caught the anchor from the top ranked team from Rodgers winning with a split of 45.9, third best in state history behind only Darrell Robinson of Wilson and Keith Tinner of Lincoln. How fitting that his best opportunity for a team state title came down to the event that he built his program around, the relay that is a team event.
Howard and his wife Mary have two children, son Howard (Howie) and daughter Reenie. He had the special opportunity to coach his son at Mariner and he got to watch his daughter run for Kamiak. He will forever be remembered as an exceptional motivator who was able to get his athletes to believe in their potential with the same unwavering faith in which he believed in them. Coach Price’s enthusiasm for the sport of track and field and his love for coaching made Mariner track and field a special experience for generations of young athletes. He is a great man who played an important part in the lives of the many athletes, coaches, parents, community members and other people he met during his great career. His induction into the Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame is a testament to his numerous contributions to the sport in Washington State.