It was a rough offseason for Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams. Long-time supporters and game-day stalwarts Jack Heise and Bob Novak both died in the last three months, leaving a behind-the-scenes void in the program.
The football program is honoring Heise with a “JH” helmet sticker. Williams has found an even more creative way to give Heise a nod on an every-day basis.
“Because Jack Heise came to more practices than anybody I’ve ever seen, we have JH on the back of our practice shorts,” Williams said. “We thought that was cool because we know that. Our team knows that, and maybe a lot of other people didn’t know it. But Jack was there. Last couple years, he was probably there three times a week at practice. So that’s kind of to honor him in the way he’d like to be honored. He’d like to leave practice and go ‘Team’s really ready for tomorrow’s game.’ That was important to him. He’d get here like two hours before the game and somebody would come up to him and he’d go ‘I was at practice yesterday, I think they’re going to work on this or do this.’ He liked that as much as the games.”
Williams also had some stories about Novak, the political commentator who was such an avid fan he appeared on “Crossfire” from the Charlotte Coliseum during the 2002 ACC tournament.
Novak underwent surgery on a brain tumor last year, but was still wheeled into a Maryland practice during the season.
“He looks around and says ‘You mean I have to watch practice without Jack Heise. How am I going to know what’s going on without Jack Heise here?’” Williams said. “Those two guys were like the odd couple. They were funny, and they were on probably 90 percent of our trips the last 10 years. They’ll be missed in a lot of ways that people don’t see.”