We're in the thick of football season, which has Mirzett Evans dashing from his Fremont, Calif., office to a nearby field every other afternoon to coach an independent league team of 34 12- to 14-year-olds aided by seven assistant coaches.
"We have two rules: respect for each other and sportsmanship," says Evans, who runs his own $3 million office-furniture installation firm, Innovative Installers. He's as tough on his charges--once sidelining a player for wearing nonregulation socks to a game--as he is on himself: "If we lose, I say I was outcoached." He can hold his tongue: His Broncos are 4-2 so far, and last year, despite a 5-3 record, the team fought its way to the hypercompetitive (the 14-team league holds a draft) Fremont Football League playoffs and on its way to the championship beat a team coached by ex-49er Darryl Pollard.
Evans, 43, played cornerback and wide receiver for the City College of San Francisco and San Francisco State but has made his home on the sidelines. He's drafted his three sons, 13, 14, and 19, to play for his team, and has sent several players on to college careers. "Coaching gives me the chance to do something I really loved all over again," says Evans, who spends about 350 hours a year studying playbooks, watching videotaped games, and attending coaching seminars. He also raises money for uniforms and players' fees and parties (about $16,000 last year). Such devotion requires more than a passion for the sport. "It's a big-time challenge," says Evans, who gets to the office at 6 a.m., leaves at 3:30 for practice, then returns for an hour to finish work. "But coaching is a stress reliever that breaks up the day. I'd work all day otherwise."
Defending the team's title is the goal, but not the only one. "The best part," says Evans, "is seeing the kids being successful after they leave my program." Spoken like a true sportsman.