Doug Trainor and Davis Lura have been friends for nearly two decades. Over the years they have worked together, vacationed together and once even lived together.
“We’ve always been buddies,” Trainor said. “I understand him and he understands me.”
Like all close friendships, little comes between them. Oh, they disagree about some things. Music, for example. “He’s a country music fan and I like rock,” Lura said.
But in all the ways that count, Trainor said, “we’re pretty tight.”
More than anything, what unites Trainor and Lura is a shared love of football. It was football that brought them together in the first place. And for almost 20 years football has been the primary link in their personal and professional lives.
But for a few hours tonight, football will divide them.
Trainor is the first-year head coach at Stanwood High School. Lura is the head coach at Marysville Getchell, a third-year school. The two teams square off at 7:30 p.m., putting Trainor and Lura on opposing sidelines for the first time.
“Win or lose,” Lura said, “it’s going to be exciting.”
The two men met in the fall of 1992 when Lura was a senior wide receiver at Stanwood and Trainor was a first-year Spartans assistant. A 1990 Mount Vernon graduate, Trainor had played two years at Foothill College in Los Altos, Calif., but an injury led him to give up playing and get into coaching.
Assigned to the Stanwood receivers, Trainor began working with Lura.
“We kind of hit it off,” Trainor said. “I don’t know if mentor is the right word because I was so young myself, but we definitely developed a bond. He was very eager to learn and he kind of bought into any of the nuances I could give him.”
“He was like a big brother to me,” Lura said. “He’d played receiver in college and he was always helping me out on the side, giving me kind of a private tutelage.”
Lura went on to play at Central Washington University, but within a few years the two men crossed paths again, this time in coaching. They both worked at different jobs in the Puget Sound area until 2004, when Trainor was the head coach at Ballard and hired Lura to his staff. Not only did they coach together, they ended up living together and even teaching in the same classroom.
And they talked a lot of football.
“The two of us basically think about football every minute of every day,” Trainor said. “We’re the same in that regard. We talk the same language and that language is football.
“Over the years it’s always been like that. We can sit in the same room, watch game film all night, maybe say 10 words to each other, and that’s a good night.”
After leaving Ballard, Trainor coached for seven seasons at Bellingham. He took the Stanwood job this year, and spent the summer working with his kids in seven-on-seven drills against Lura’s Marysville Getchell players.
And by a coincidence of schedule, Trainor’s 2-1 Spartans play Lura’s 1-2 Chargers at Marysville Pilchuck High School in tonight’s Western Conference 3A North opener for both teams.
“When you go against somebody who taught you a lot, of course you want to win,” Lura said. “But just the fact that we get to match up against each other (makes it special).
“I’ve tried to model myself after him and what he taught me and how he coaches. And a lot of the stuff we run is stuff I got from him.”
Though the two speak sparingly during the season — “I don’t want to have to give him misinformation, so it’s best if we don’t talk,” Trainor said with a chuckle — the friendship is unwavering.
Even if there is a brief interruption tonight.
“Here we are in our first league game going against each other, so that’s really odd,” Trainor said. But at kickoff, he added, the feeling “will be no different (than any other game). I want to beat him and I’m sure it’s the same for him. It’s not that I want to beat him (personally), but I want our kids to beat Getchell and that’s what it comes down to.
“But that’s my buddy over there,” he said. “And whatever the score is, I’ll be the first guy after the game to give him a big hug.”