Weekend at Jadwin relaxing for Cowher

PU splits as Steelers coach watches

By: Kyle Moylan
   Considering his daughters were nice enough to go to his last game, it was only fair Bill Cowher returned the favor.
   A day after winning the Super Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach was watching Lindsay and Lauren play for the Fox Chapel High School basketball team. This past Friday night, Cowher and his wife, Kaye, were at Jadwin Gym to see their eldest daughter, Meagan, play for the Princeton University women’s basketball team.
   "I try to get to as many games as possible," noted the coach with the longest active streak with the same team in the NFL. "I’m the kind of guy that wants to get back to normalcy as soon as possible."
   Fortunately for the Princeton women’s team, it has done away with what has become the norm for far too long. With its 70-55 win over Harvard on Friday night, Princeton has secured its first winning season since the 1998-99 campaign with nearly a month still left in the regular season.
   "It’s a vindication on how far this program has come," said Meagan, who scored 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the win.
   Meagan Cowher was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season. During Princeton’s 14-6 start (5-2 in the Ivy) this season, which includes an 82-64 loss to Dartmouth Saturday night (Cowher scored 20 points and had nine rebounds in that one), she has been the Ivy League Player of the Week twice.
   A lot of Meagan Cowher’s success in basketball can be attributed to genetics and the instruction she got in the sport as a child. It’s not from the parent one might expect, though. Credit Kaye Cowher.
   A former standout in college and a professional women’s basketball player, Kaye Cowher was the first coach for all of her daughters. She’s continued to coach AAU teams, but with all her daughters in college or high school, she’s considering giving it up now.
   "We worked really hard on fundamentals and defense," Kaye Cowher noted about what she taught all of her daughters. "I don’t know if a lot of coaches are teaching those things at that age. I was really hard on those things. The mental part of the game she learned from her father because he’s really tough."
   Apparently, Bill Cowher is a lot tougher on the field and sidelines than off. He graciously signed hundreds of autographs before the game and at halftime, flashing his world famous smile in the process.
   After the game, however, he stood off to the side and seemed to be getting a real kick out of watching his daughter and the other members of Princeton’s team being the ones mobbed by a group of little girls for autographs.
   "I’m just a fan," Bill Cowher said. "I’m just a parent."
   One of the autographs most in demand was that of Becky Brown. With her 27 points against Harvard and 12 against Dartmouth, Brown now has scored 1,476 points at the school. Brown is third all time in scoring at Princeton University, trailing only Sandi Bittler (1,683) and Claire Tomasiewicz (1,622). Brown has seven regular season and possibly some post-season action to move up the list. And considering the roll Princeton has been on, it’s hard to discount any possibility.
   "This has all been just so exciting," Meagan Cowher noted. "The seniors had never beat Harvard, so it was great to give them that. And last weekend I had a quick but exciting trip."
   Meagan’s mother and sisters met her in Trenton and they all took an airplane ride to Detroit on Feb. 5 to see daddy guide the Steelers to a 21-10 win over Seattle in the Super Bowl. Meagan flew back to Princeton the next morning for her classes, missing Tuesday’s parade through the streets of Pittsburgh.
   "It was important Meagan get back for school," Kaye Cowher said. "She works hard in the gym and hard in the classroom. We like the balance."
   Besides, it’s not like Meagan had never been to a Super Bowl before. She was there 10 years ago when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Steelers. She’s the little girl captured on the NFL Films highlights of the game giving her father a big hug and kiss as he walked off the field.
   "Yeah, that was me," Meagan laughed. "I only remember parts of that, not as much as I would like. To be on the winning side of it this time . . . That means a lot to my entire family."
   So does the success of the Princeton women’s basketball team. So does the fact Fox Chapel qualified for the state playoffs this past week.
   "I’m always happy to see them play and do well," Bill Cowher smiled. "After all, I have a vested interest."