“One of a kind” doesn’t begin to describe the life of Ed Fincham
by Bill Sterner
The local sports scene lost an icon over the weekend with the passing of David “Ed” Fincham.
Fincham, 84, left behind a legacy of longevity in teaching, coaching and his true passion of officiating.
In fact, Fincham officiated numerous sports for more than five decades after a Hall of Fame coaching career at Shepherd University which started in 1960.
Fincham retired from Shepherd as the school’s women’s basketball coach with the most wins after stints in football and golf.
It always seemed that whatever he tried, he quickly would reach the pinnacle of greatness. Outside of Shepherd and officiating, he also trained lifeguards who went on to work at many local pools. The majority of the staffs I employed at the Hancock pool were trained by Fincham.
But unique to Fincham’s personality was that unlike many of us who get really good at what we do by hard work and determination and rightfully reward ourselves, Fincham was glad to take you along for the ride to the top if you were willing to put the time and effort in.
He was caring and driven to get the best out of you once he met you.
And that made him a standout and standup kind of guy.
I first met him as a young football coach and over the years he called more than a dozen of my games the numerous times we ventured into the Panhandle to play.
But one night, I learned exactly what Fincham was all about.
We happened to be playing a team where we were not expected to win. Out sized and out muscled, it didn’t look good from the beginning. As always Fincham was wearing the white hat. Prior to the opening kickoff he came over and shook my hand after introducing himself to my assistants. He told them we went back a long way and how well he always thought my teams were coached.
Once the game started my kids played outstanding. The score continued to seesaw back and forth. With just under a minute to go in the game, we trailed by four points and had a kickoff coming to us.
The ball came down to the nine yard line and in a flash my kid was running in open field all the way for what was the game winning touchdown.
But as everyone celebrated and our fans started on to the sidelines, a flag layed on the 25 yard line.
A flag thrown by Fincham.
“Please tell me that isn’t on us,” I implored.
Fincham stood over the flag and called a hold which brought the play back.
We lost and my kids, coaches and fans were devastated and angry.
After settling down an emotional locker room and weeping a little myself, I was sitting waiting for the kids to board the bus when Fincham walked up to me.
He sat down and put his arm around my shoulder. I was tense, but his voice was low and steady.
“Coach,” he said. “I swear to goodness there was a hold on that play. I didn’t even see your run back. I was just doing my job.”
I thanked him and walked away.
That night after getting home I couldn’t watch the video.
But the next morning I was up early and immediately went to that play. I knew if it was there the camera angle would clearly pick it up.
And there it was. Clear as day and right in front of Fincham.
He had simply done his job and the situation or relationships or anything else didn’t deter him.
Later, I sent him an email saying I had seen the play and it was a good call. I told him I respected his courage.
He thanked me and ended his email with, “Believe me there is enough respect between the both of us.”
And that was Fincham. Fair, just and always doing what he knew was right.
Godspeed Ed Fincham. One of a kind doesn’t begin to describe the impact of your life on all of us.
–The Hancock News August 28, 2019