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Teel: Whit Babcock remembers his dad as larger than life, but with a fun side, too –

Posted: June 6, 2020 at 11:47 am

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Whit Babcocks Virginia Tech bio is incomplete. Yes, as noted in media guides and online, the Hokies athletic director earned his chops at various career stops in fundraising, marketing, promotions, ticket sales and the like. But that ignores his roots.

Babcocks start in college sports was laboring in James Madisons equipment room. He later joined the Dukes maintenance crew and groundskeepers.

For that foundation, for that appreciation of everyone in the enterprise, Babcock can thank his dad.

He shaped my whole life, whether I realized it at the time or not, Babcock said Thursday. But I know it now.

Brad Babcock died Tuesday at age 81, his only son and other family at his hospital bedside. He was a revered baseball coach, firm administrator and popular teacher at JMU, none of which he aspired to do.

A football, basketball and baseball athlete at Appomattox County High, and a baseball shortstop at Lynchburg College, Babcock dreamed of coaching football. Fate had other ideas.

He arrived at JMU in 1971 to assist football coach Challace McMillin with the programs 1972 launch. But Babcock quickly proved too adept at his side hustle, steering the Dukes equally fledgling baseball program.

JMU upgraded its teams to Division I in 1976-77, and six years later, Babcocks team, headlined by players such as Jim Knicely, Steve Cullers and Jeff Kidd, was in the College World Series, an ascension stunning for its scope and speed.

Then 12, Whit served as the Dukes batboy for the NCAA regional in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the CWS in Omaha, Neb., a son sharing in his fathers signature professional moment from mere feet away. Thats rare, and to be cherished.

That was a true fairy tale, Whit said. I thought those guys were the New York Yankees, man, and they won a lot of games.

If they were the Yankees, then Coach Babcock was? He was fiery like Billy Martin but certainly didnt brawl with his players. He could be folksy like Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra but wasnt yet a grandfatherly figure. He was calculating like Buck Showalter and Joe Torre.

He fathered as a coach, Whit said. He didnt really take second opinions. That role fit him. He could be tough on ya, now. It was a tightly run household.

While Brad traveled, his then-wife, Brenda, took care of Whit and his younger sister, Gini. When home, he eagerly played catch, hunted and fished with his son.

At Whits baseball and basketball games, Brad sat quietly, often by himself. Still, Whit felt immense pressure to impress a man he considered larger than life.

Indeed, though not huge physically, Brad had a presence, as I learned in the spring of 1980.

Assigned to preview JMUs baseball season for the student newspaper, I found myself sitting with him in the Dukes dugout, a rather intimidating encounter for a cub reporter. Early in our conversation, he made clear who was in charge.

With all the precision of a pitcher painting the outside edge at the knees, Babcock spit tobacco juice Red Man was his chew of choice on my right tennis shoe.

Our eyes met, and he smiled first. Then we both cracked up.

Upon learning that he was an AD candidate at Virginia Tech, I texted Whit, then the athletic director at Cincinnati. By way of introduction, I shared the tobacco story.

Sounds just like him, Whit replied.

The Times-Dispatchs John OConnor recalls similar mischief from his own playing days at Richmond, Brad in the third-base coaching box impishly tossing pebbles at him while he patrolled third base for the Spiders.

The last of Babcocks 19 years coaching JMU was 1989. His teams went 558-251-4 (.689 winning percentage), reached five NCAA tournaments and endured just one losing season, that in 1972. Moreover, during his tenure, the Dukes had a winning record versus every Division I program in Virginia, including 14-11 against UVA, 11-10 versus Virginia Tech and 17-14-1 against Old Dominion.

I absolutely believe growing up in the household of a successful head coach pays dividends today, said Whit, a freshman reserve on his dads final team. I never wanted to get into coaching. That wasnt my love, and he used to come home after a tough day and say, Lord have mercy, Whit. Dont get into coaching because the fate of your job is in the hands of 18-year-olds.

I hope I would be considered a coaches AD, and I believe understanding things from their perspective is very helpful.

I last saw Coach Babcock three years ago at Techs introductory news conference for baseball coach John Szefc. He was as feisty and gregarious as ever, trading old stories with former Hokies coach and rival Chuck Hartman.

Some of those tales may have even been true.

Babcock was among the pioneer coaches who during the 1970s and 80s showed all that JMU athletics could, and would, become. Betty Jaynes and Shelia Moorman in womens basketball, and Lou Campanelli in mens basketball; McMillin in football and Bob Vanderwarker in mens soccer; Lee Morrison in field hockey and administration.

Fueling their ambition were athletic director Dean Ehlers and university president Ronald Carrier, aka Uncle Ron.

Glorious times, Whit Babcock said.

Brad Babcock transitioned into administration after coaching and also taught graduate-level kinesiology classes, the latter without a textbook. Throughout, he remained in touch with former players, the relationships coaches always come to treasure, realizing the lasting impact they made on young people.

It was nice to see him later in life, Whit said, probably like a lot of fathers do, soften up a little bit. To see him evolve into a teacher and a grandfather and take probably more joy in my career, that was really fun to see.

Here Babcock paused and laughed.

He never stopped coaching or giving me advice, he continued. Some I would listen to and some I wouldnt, but he didnt mind giving it to you.

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June 6th, 2020 at 11:47 am

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Boris Becker on his return to coaching and life with Novak Djokovic – Tennis365

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Speaking exclusively to Eurosport Germanys Vocal Athletes podcast, six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker reveals he hasnt ruled out a return to the coaches box and why he left his role as the coach of Novak Djokovic.

I wouldnt rule out the possibility of becoming a coach again. In the current situation, its not possible because Im responsible for the mens Team Germany. But nothing is eternal. If there are players who interest me, who allow me to coach so and want to be open with me, then thats something I could definitely consider.

The problem is that it is very time-consuming. As a coach of Novak Djokovic, I spent 25 to 30 weeks with him. That includes training camps and smaller tournaments. You have to take part in the preparation tournaments and all the pre-season training in winter and spring. That is very time-consuming. I have a family and I have other professional projects that I need to manage. But I dont want to rule it out completely. Tennis is my great love.

When I received the first call [from Djokovics management], Djokovic had just lost his number one position in the ATP rankings he was only the number two in the world. I have commentated on many games like Wimbledon finals or US Open finals on him as a TV expert and I have always been of a clear opinion. He has taken these reviews to heart.

Then there was a phone call from his manager Edoardo Artaldi, who was also a long- time companion of mine. He asked me if I wanted to become coach of Novak. I visited Djokovic a few weeks later in Monte Carlo and we talked for 48 hours just about tennis. My promise to him was that I had to tell him open and honestly the truth, because everything else doesnt work and I cant embellish anything: The reason why you might not be so good anymore is because you felt too good as number one, you didnt improve. The other players like [Rafael] Nadal and [Roger] Federer have adjusted their game. I dont like your positioning on the court, I dont like your serve at all.

We had a long conversation. He had already won many Grand Slam titles and was an absolute superstar, but he wasnt satisfied with himself and he seeked for more. You have to give him credit for that. When I see a lot of young players in contrast, who play a semi-final once and then celebrate that success for half a year. Thats not comparable with a character like Djokovic but Federer and Nadal are the same. Djokovic is driven by tennis history and eternal records.

Novak will always be a very close friend of mine. Our cooperation terminated end of 2016 because he wanted to take a break. He had elbow problems and in spring 2017 an operation followed. It has been three very intense, very successful years and at some point even a superstar like Djokovic has to take a little break. And what does the coach do then? There was no stress and we really split up for the better. At the subsequent Grand Slams we always met whenever he had a question about a player. My door was always open. A player-coach partnership like that is above all characterized by trust. I can only help a player if he openly addresses his worries and fears. He has to be totally honest and I really appreciate that trust.

Boris Becker was a guest on Eurosport Germanys Vocal Athletes podcast.

Follow us on Twitter @T365Official.

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June 6th, 2020 at 11:47 am

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The Conversation: Catching up with Ashland University assistant coach Brook Turson – Mansfield News Journal

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Brook Turson, who scored over 2,000 points in his Plymouth career, was just promoted as lead assistant in the Ashland University men's basketball program.(Photo: Brian J. Smith/News Journal)

PLYMOUTH - I don't like the terms "former teammate" or "ex-teammate."

If you had a teammate in any sport, that person will always be your teammate. Which is whycthe first guest on The Conversation, a weekly series where I sit down with a local figure in athletics, is my teammate, Brook Turson.

Turson and I played basketball together at Plymouth for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons before I graduated and got out of the way for his Big Red teams to make trips to the regional tournament.

After learning of his promotion within the Ashland University men's basketball coaching staff, I stopped by Turson's house to meet his new baby girl and catch up with the best basketball player I've ever played with and undeniably, the best player to come from Plymouth High School.

Here is our conversation.

Jake Furr: This promotion, man, it is awesome. I couldn't be happier for you. How cool is this?

Brook Turson: It really is. It is something I have always wanted to do. I had a job opportunity two and a half years ago at West Liberty University to be their lead assistant and I didn't take it because it didn't feel right at the time. Jen and I were about to get married and it just didn't feel right. So I decided to talk with Coach (John) Ellenwood and I told him I would stick around and work on campus (at Ashland University) and work in the admissions office and help out with the basketball program when I can and he was super gracious. He wanted me to be a part of things. This year, Coach (Rob) Gardner getting a job at Lincoln Memorial in Tennessee, which is one of the best Division II schools in the country, Coach Ellenwood asked if I wanted to take the job and I said absolutely without hesitation. It gets me out of admissions and into basketball full-time and I am so thankful. The program Coach Ellenwood has built is the best Division II program in the state of Ohio, there is no doubt in my mind. So to be a part of that for the foreseeable future is special because I was a player there and have a special connection to the program.

JF: For sure, man. Sitting here with you now, I think back to just how much different your life was say six months ago. The responsibility level in your life has increased exponentially with a new baby girl and now a full-time basketball coach as a lead assistant. It seems like a lot for a young guy like yourself.

BT: Oh it is. It is a lot because at the Division II level as a lead assistant, you aren't just a coach and recruiter. You are now a student-athlete academic coach, you handle a budget, you are responsible for equipment so you really get the full spectrum. My wife and I just had a child six weeks ago so I am already in a whirlwind as we work together to learn to be parents and then you through this COVID-19 stuff on top of it. Honestly, having Blair during this pandemic couldn't have been better timing because we get to stay at home with her a lot. The ramifications of this whole thing are incredible to see though as it affects recruiting and people's lives in general. It has been a whirlwind of a month and a half.

JF: That may be the best way to put it because I could only imagine. But it is interesting you bring up recruiting because I feel like that is one of the things that has most changed in sports with this whole pandemic.

BT: Oh it has. There are so many more Zoom meetings and Zoom calls, but I spend more time on the phone calling and texting than I have in the past with guys we are interested in. We can't evaluate kids right now because we can't see them. Sure we look at highlight tapes and we get game film from coaches so I watch a lot of that and evaluate as much as I can. I watch two game films in the morning of a kid we are looking at just to see, OK he is good at this and not good at this and when we get a chance to see him if it matches up with what we see on film. It is so different because Coach Ellenwood has always been very personal with his offers. When we see a player we want, he puts nearly all of his focus on one kid at a time. You are our guy and we want you. This year, it might be a little bit different, but hopefully, this whole thing will make me a better recruiter because now, I can do so many different things and if you can recruit in a time like this, you can recruit in anything.

JF: Will this change recruiting forever or is there any chance things just return to the normal way when all this is behind us?

BT: That is a good question. I think it will change in some aspects, but I don't see it changing drastically. You are still going to have such a huge emphasis on AAU because that is the best level of competition. Now this year, it will be different because college guys like myself and even higher level coaches are going to have to go to a lot more high school games because we haven't been able to go to AAU tournaments to watch kids. We have always gone to high school games before, but this year, it is going to be the most constant evaluation that we can do besides workouts and open gyms in the fall. So it will be different this year, but next year, assuming things get back to normal, it should go back to an emphasis in the summer from shoe circuits to AAU tournaments.

JF: I held on to something you said early about highlight tapes. I feel like those things can be so deceiving. I see them all over social media and of course, every shot is made, there is dunk after dunk and I just feel like as talent evaluation, you can't put a ton of stock into highlight tapes, right? Or am I way off?

Brook Turson was elevated to lead assistant coach at Ashland University in the men's basketball program.(Photo: Ashland University)

BT: There is some truth to that. I like when they are short and concise at about 3-5 minutes. We don't have a ton of time because we get dozens a day from kids. What I want to see on them is show me you can shoot because the main thing I am looking at is your form. I look at the release and the point of the release and if it is a high-arching shot. I know you are going to make the shot or else you wouldn't put it in a highlight tape. But I also want to see you going both directions when handling the ball. I want to see how you are as a passer. Defensively, it is hard to point it out on a highlight tape, but if you put 30-45 seconds in of you playing great defense, that would be great. Everyone is an All-American in a highlight tape so you take it a grain of salt, but it does help, especially with an initial evaluation of a kid.

JF: I know you as a basketball guy. We are teammates and friends so I know it isn't only who you are, but you are making your living off of the game you love. What is it like to be doing this full-time and your only responsibility as far as your career goes?

BT: It is refreshing, I think. I am going to really enjoy what I am doing because I am part of a program I respect and love. Just working with the young men in our program is going to be so rewarding. We don't recruit jerks at Ashland. We look for high-level kids and you are going to have to be a great student and meet our culture values. So to work with people like that and in that environment is going to be refreshing. But, I still want to be a husband and father first. I can't always get wrapped up in basketball, basketball, basketball. Right now, it is easy to do because it is the first thing on my mind in the morning because it is so new, but Coach Ellenwood does a great job of showing how you can incorporate family into your career because he is such an amazing family man with four kids of his own. I know if I have something going on with Jen or Blair, he is going to support me putting my family first. That is one of the nice things about Division II vs high-level and mid-major Division I. There is so much instant need and your time is in high demand. And I can't only be a basketball coach and nor would I want to given my amazing family.

JF: Obviously there have to be head coaching aspirations, right? Ideally, where do you see this career going?

Brook Turson played for Ashland before he became an assistant coach under his coach John Ellenwood. Earlier in the week, Turson was promoted to lead assistant at AU.(Photo: News Journal File Photo)

BT: That is a very good question. You know, playing for my dad like you did, basketball is what I have known for 28 years now. I have learned from so many great coaches. But I just don't know where it is going to go. Right now, I am so thrilled to have this opportunity until coach gets rid of me (laughs). But I would love to be a head coach at some point in time, but I don't see that being anytime soon. There is just so much learning to be done with how to orchestrate a program and also how to be integrated into a community and having so many people to answer to. We will see though. If it leads to another assistant job somewhere, great. If it doesn't and I am at Ashland for 10 years, that would be fine with me, too. We are the best Division II program in the state, so who wouldn't want to be a part of that.

JF: But man, you have a daughter. Your dad coached you. Am I going to see you on the sidelines sometime in the future coaching her in high school? (Laughs)

BT: (Laughs) I don't know if that is in the cards for me. But interestingly enough, my dad said that when he has a grandchild, he would love to coach their travel and youth teams.

JF: Now that is something I have to see!

BT: Well he is already doing it to a certain extent with some step-grandchildren he has and they are all girls, too, so he already has that in his blood. So maybe I will just let him take that over and I can just be a parent in the stands. I already have little patience so I would hate to see what 8- to 10-year old girls do to me; probably make me gray. But it will be so much fun to see where Blair goes in life.

Brook Turson, playing in the 2010 News Journal All-Star Classic, was inducted as part of the charter class in the Plymouth High School Hall of Fame.(Photo: News Journal file photo)

JF: I may just have to buy a ticket to see Coach (Brad) Turson coaching youth basketball. With you two being coaches now, do you pick his brain now more than ever or does he try to talk basketball more when you guys are around each other?

BT: He is so good at not overstepping. He knows this is not my program and that it is Coach Ellenwood's program and I am here to help. If I do have a question about something, my dad is always there and he is and has always been so supportive of what we do at Ashland. He is at every home game with Jen and my mom and everyone else. I know he is there when I need him, but since he stopped coaching, he has taken a step back and is really enjoying what he is doing instead of worrying about basketball all the time. But he is always there.

JF: I look at your life and man you have to be enjoying this right now. You have a newborn baby and now you are a full-time basketball coach. I don't really know if you can call this work.

BT: Oh some days, it is work. The league we play in, at least for next season, has so much travel. We are switching leagues next year so that will be less travel, but we have one more year in the GLIAC. But at the end of the day, it really isn't work. I get to go to the office wearing shorts or sweats with aT-shirt or a hoodie, maybe a hat if I want. When I worked in admissions, I had to wear a shirt and sometimes a tie with slacks and dress shoes. The sweatpants will be welcomed back with open arms. (Laughs) It is not work, especially when you do something you love.


Twitter: @JakeFurr11

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June 6th, 2020 at 11:47 am

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Alternative Baseball Club Names Tyler Wright Head Coach – The Madison Record –

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MADISON- The greater North Alabama Alternative Baseball Club is in need of volunteers and coaches, but no longer a head coach as Tyler Wright has been chosen to head up the local Alternative Baseball Club.

I was scanning Facebook one night and saw the organization needed a head coach and I thought that position would be awesome, said Wright. My goal is to build the program by getting players and volunteer coaches to help expand to where we can have several local teams.

The current team plays in a league comprised of squads in Atlanta, Chattanooga and Auburn, which requires loads of travel. If the local organization can expand, the woes of traveling would mostly be a thing of the past.

The Alternative Baseball Organization is a 501c3 developmental baseball program for disabled persons ages 15 and older. The national organization has been featured on national television and publications highlighting its incredible skills to assist those with a disability who have a passion for baseball.

The 31-year old Wright was born with cerebral palsy that has affected the right side of his body where he has little movement in his right hand. He also walks with a limp, but his disabilities have led to his strong competitive spirit stemming from his several years as a player and coach of his favorite sport.

I played baseball in grades 7-10 and then I helped coach softball in grades 11-12, said Wright, who works at Huntsville Hospitals Outpatient Therapy Dept. I was asked to try out for the baseball team at New Hope Middle School when I was in the seventh grade. I was afraid I would not make the team, but the coach helped me make the transition to the team. He gave me confidence as Im a competitor. I like to play the game. With my coaching experience, I want to build social skills, confidence and team work in each player and hope they will take those skills out to everyday life.

To help reach his goal with the organization, Wright needs players and volunteers. He anticipates to try and begin practices in late July or early August. He currently has 10 players on the team roster and hopes to get many others involved.

The current COVID-19 crisis cuffed the efforts of the organization. New members are currently being recruited at the organizations website- Those interested in being involved can visit the websites player and volunteer portal to register. I will personally follow up on each inquiry, said Wright. Being back on the field is also an issue as the team is looking for a new home field after playing at Huntsvilles Mae Jemison High School a season ago.

Alternative Baseball is for teens and adults with autism and other disabilities.

Wright currently attends Calhoun College looking to earn a degree in Health Care Administration.

His playing days at New Hope School included his having the unique talents of throwing and catching only with his left hand. Most of his time on teams was spent as an assistant coach rather than a player. His experience led him to be a coach of travel-summer baseball teams including the Huntsville Banditos for the last three years. His coaching for his new team is a natural fit as hes lived the uneasy feelings of being out of place among others and the lack of confidence to attempt a sport.

Wrights work as the team manager for his high school football team led him to be a leader and helper. His love for baseball, especially as an avid fan of the Atlanta Braves, is easily seen in his new position of making a difference in the lives of others.

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June 6th, 2020 at 11:47 am

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Coach Lynch, a Life Coach and Fitness Expert, is Offering Fitness Coaching to Transform People through his Brand, AWOL Fitness – America Daily Post

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Lynch Hunt, popular as Coach Lynch, is a motivational and fitness expert, who is making news for offering holistic fitness coaching in transforming people. He has got a long experience of over 15 years in the world of fitness and he shares it with his clients in his training sessions.

Coach Lynch, through his brand, AWOL, is running multiple businesses by using platforms such as fitness, supplements, motivational speaking, educational curriculum-based courses, and community outreach. The sole motive of his services is to help people transform completely into their minds and bodies.

And he is making use of his leadership spirit to educate, motivate, and empower people to undergo a complete transformation at the mental and physical level. Under Coach Lynchs visionary leadership, lots of people have managed to find their new identity and explore themselves completely.

Unlike other average coaches, he pays attention to the individual requirements of his clients and plans strategies accordingly to serve their needs. With his hard work, Coach Lynch has collected numerous certifications in the health and fitness world. Moreover, he has utilized all his experiences and life lessons to introduce the brand, AWOL Fitness for people.

Through various fitness challenges, AWOL helps to improve the overall quality of life by making a person transform his mind and body. With the help of its proprietary exercise system, known as F.A.S.T (Functional Athletic Strength Training), the AWOL Fitness team helps a person improve his performance and physique in a limited amount of time.

Coach Lynch has faced a lot of hardships in his life and he even had to spend 10 years in federal prison. After that, he never looked back and made a strong comeback in the world of fitness training and personal development. He has penned down 5 self-help books on personal development and he is about to release his new workbook titled 7 Levels of Discipline that Manifest Success along with AWOLs very own Fitness app to launch at the end of june.

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June 6th, 2020 at 11:47 am

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Thomas ‘Tom’ Gallagher,71, beloved teacher and coach whose career spanned three decades – Southside Daily

Posted: May 17, 2020 at 10:46 pm

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Virginia Beach lost part of its soul with the passing of longtime resident Thomas Tom Gallagher, 71, on Sunday, May 10, 2020.

Growing up in the tenements of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Tom acquired skills that served him well throughout life. He served in Okinawa and was an expert dog handler. ESU and Sarge were the beloved dogs he trained and handled. Tom was also an excellent sharp shooter. A proud veteran with a huge heart, Tom loved his life and his country.

After his time in the service, he attended ODU and began a teaching and coaching career that spanned three decades. Mr. G. taught at both John B. Dey Elementary and Great Neck Middle School touching countless young lives and giving all his students or Rug Rats various nicknames. With his competitive nature, Tom coached the Great Neck Girls Soccer team and was so proud of their multiple city championships.

Tom was a fixture at Wareings Gym from its earliest days. He treasured his time with the 71st Street Anglers, where he served as PREZ for life. As an integral part of the 78th Street Beach Bullies, he was one of the most colorful members.

When Tom met his beloved wife in 1979, he famously told her she didnt look like a Barbara and named her Patti, which is how we all know her today. Together for 40 years Tom and Patti were best friends and true companions. You rarely saw one without the other. He referred to her as my everything. They traveled extensively while hiking, biking and skiing in North America, Europe and Australia, and loving their life of adventures. Tom and Patti were fixtures on the feeder road and dressed up each Christmas as Santa and Mrs. Claus spreading good cheer to both people and dogs with their treats.

In addition to Patti, Tom is also survived by his best friend, Joe Bessette, aka as BoBo, another nickname given by Tom. Other survivors include his aunts, Evelyn and Marie; nephew, Ross, and Lisa Kremers, and their family.

Toms sense of humor, love of life and passion for the Red Sox were well known in Virginia Beach. His voice and presence could fill a room long before he entered. The gym, the beach and the feeder road will all be a little quieter without his booming voice and Boston accent.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date when we can all gather and raise a glass or two to Tom and share the many wonderful Tom stories.

Memorial donations may be made in Toms memory to Spikes K9 Fund for the care of the Working and Retired K9 Community at or the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad at

Share online condolences with the family at Altmeyer Funeral Homes & Crematory.

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May 17th, 2020 at 10:46 pm

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C. JEMAL HORTON: West Cabarrus’ Adams shows gratitude to those who helped him by paying it forward – Independent Tribune

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CONCORD The distance from the west end of Gastonia to West Cabarrus High School is only about 40 miles, but the proximity does nothing to tell you just how far Jabarr Adams has come to get here.

Sports editor, C. Jemal Horton

Hired last week as the Wolverines first boys basketball coach, Adams proved himself on small-college campuses in the Deep South (Alabama) and across the Southwest (Texas and Oklahoma), and had a stint in the Queen City before he arrived at Cabarrus Countys newest school.

West Cabarrus is just an exciting atmosphere for me, said the 36-year-old Adams, who spent the past two years as head coach at Mallard Creek High. It was an opportunity to build from the ground up. I just cant wait to pour into my team, help them grow as young men.

Its a model Adams knows intimately, the power of helping others. Because if people hadnt poured into Adams life when he was a teenager, he mightve never made it out of his hometown.

Maybe hed still be under the stranglehold of poverty.

Maybe hed still be on the hard-edged parts of west Gastonia.

Or worse, like so many people he grew up with, maybe hed be another tragic tale of imprisonment or early death.

Hes the first in his immediate family to have a high school diploma. Better yet, hes a man with a masters degree.

Hes a soon-to-be married father.

Hes a respected man who beat out scores of other well-qualified candidates to be chosen for one of the top jobs in high school sports, not to mention at a school making its athletics debut this fall.

And theres not a day that goes by that Adams isnt thankful for the people who believed in him, the men and women who decided to reach back and try to make a difference in his life.

Thats why he turned a deaf ear to the mean streets and instead answered the calling to coach.

As the middle boy of seven kids, Adams grew up in a single-parent household in Gastonia. His mother, Sheryl, did all she could, but life was still rough, and the family occasionally had to live in Section 8 housing.

Jabarr Adams (right) with his mother, Sheryl.

Adams struggled in the environment without his father around each day, and he sometimes acted out at school. But the one place he found solace, the arena that allowed him to put his troubles behind him and shine, was the fields of play.

Adams was special when it came to sports, even at a young age, and local coaches didnt want him to waste his talents and become another one of Gaston Countys stories of athletes who could have gone on to great things.

Family members who themselves had found trouble in Gastonia tried to help Adams, too.

I had an older brother (Kynotta Smith) and twin uncles (Danielle and Donnelle Smith) that always told me, You never go in the streets. The streets are not for you. We want you to be better than the streets. You dont do what we do, Adams said.

Anything I wanted, if they had it, they gave it to me.

The encouragement gave Adams hope, even in his darkest hours, but he admits it still didnt keep him from making his share of missteps. Things got their worst in his eighth grade year at York Chester Middle School the same year he won county championships in football, basketball and track and field.

I had great friends, but there were times that I was the class clown, Adams said. I was always getting in trouble. But I knew I had to do something different. And thats part of what changed my life.

One of the things that helped change Adams perspective on life was his fast-growing friendship with a fellow eighth-grader named Britton Thomas.

Thomas went to a different school, Holbrook Middle. Thomas was white, and Adams was African American. But they were kindred spirits. They played well together on the basketball court, and they liked many of the same things when they were off it, whether it was music or movies. Pretty soon, the boys were inseparable.

We were always together, Adams said. Its crazy. We still talk about it. It was like White Men Cant Jump. I was the black guy, he was the white guy. You could never find us apart. We did everything you do with a brother. He really was like a brother to me.

Adams also grew close to Thomas father, Terry. And before long, Adams was eating at the Thomas home. Then, he was spending nights there.

Mr. Thomas became my godfather, Adams said. The family really helped me.

Adams effectively became a part of the Thomas family, and he got to do and see things he never imagined were possible.

Being with Mr. Thomas growing up, he showed me a different side of life, Adams explained. Me and Britton played AAU ball together for the Gastonia Cougars. Then I ended up leaving the Cougars to play for the (Charlotte) Royals. Without their transportation, I would have never been able to play for the Royals. The Royals, we went to a national tournament at Disney World. Those are things I wouldve never gotten to do without help from (the Thomas family).

Adams was noticing a change in his life. He didnt want to hang in the streets. He didnt want to show out in class anymore. The Thomases were showing him a different side of life, and he wanted that for himself.

But as his high school days approached, he didnt believe he could be at his best if he went to Hunter Huss, the high school that York Chester fed into. Instead, he wanted to go to Ashbrook, where his buddy, Britton, was going.

Adams petitioned the county for permission to go to Ashbrook, but it was denied. At first, he didnt know what to do, but his last resort was to appeal the ruling. And Terry Thomas was right there with him when he went before the Gaston County Board of Education, led by Dr. Jennifer Davis.

Mr. Thomas went with me for my appeal, Adams said, and we expressed to Dr. Davis that I was trying to do the right things and that I wasnt trying to get in trouble, that I was trying to go down the right path, and that I was trying to distance myself from people I grew up with who (could make) me go down the wrong path.

Fortunately, she granted me the ability to be able to go to Ashbrook.

At Ashbrook, Adams continued to star in multiple sports, but he truly cherished his days playing for the Greenwave baskeball team.

Teaming with Britton and a cast of other talented players, Ashbrook went 77-10 during Adams time there, winning three conference championships.

Adams especially loved playing for the highly respected Marty Hatchell, who remains Gaston Countys winningest coach with 379 career victories. Hatchell, Adams said, was another father figure for him.

Jabarr Adams (13) and his best friend, Britton Thomas (14), were part of an Gastonia Ashbrook High School team coached by Marty Hatchell that won 77 games and won three conference championships in the early 2000s.

In fact, when Adams wasnt sleeping at the Thomases house, many times he was staying at Hatchells. The veteran coach helped keep him on the right path. He held him accountable, on the court and off.

Finally, Adams was learning what it was like to be his best self. And he liked it.

When I was able to go to Ashbrook, the rest was history for me, he said. I became the athlete that I was, but I also had more positive people around me at the time. I had more support going to Ashbrook.

Ill just be honest with you: A lot of the guys I grew up with are not doing what Im doing. The guys I grew up with in my neighborhood, theyre selling drugs, theyre in and out of prison. So it actually helped me going a different route. I feel like without that special help, I may have been going down the same road.

When Adams was looking for junior colleges to play ball, Hatchell set up his visits. When Hatchell couldnt make it, Adams P.E. teacher, Jerri Edwards, personally took him on the trips to different campuses.

I just had a lot of people wanting to help me, Adams recalled. It really made a difference in my life.

Adams first stop after Ashbrook was a Rockingham Community College, where he was blessed with another father figure: Dean Myrick.

Myrick was a young coach who loved his players, but he also loved them enough to tell them when they were wrong. And when he first got to RCC, Adams started going wayward. It was time for some tough love.

Ill never forget it, Adams said. I was getting in trouble in class the first two weeks of school. (Myrick) sat me down in his office one day and said, Now, if you dont straighten up in the classroom, Im going to send you back to Gaston County.

I knew I didnt want to go back, and that set me straight right then, he said. I said, Hey, Ive got to do right, Ive got to do well.

Adams started flying right, on and off the court, and eventually secured a scholarship to UNC Pembroke, a program at the time led by Jason Tinsley.

Adams had a solid two seasons at Pembroke. He averaged 6.6 points and 3.9 rebounds as a junior, and 5.7 points and 3.6 boards as a senior. But his stay in Pembroke was beneficial in so many other ways.

Jabarr Adams was a tough-minded guard at UNC Pembroke, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees.

He learned that people who care about you really care about you never stop caring for you.

One of the AAU teams Adams played for was the Newton Flames, coached by Steve Arndt. The basketball was great, Adams said, but he really got to see what it meant to be a part of Arndts team years after he stopped playing for the Flames.

(Arndt) was also special in my life, Adams said. He helped me out, and he kind of took me on when I was going to college. He and his (Cathy) were always there to support me. Sometimes, theyd send me monthly allowances. When I was doing well in school, theyd send me goodie packages. On final exam week, Id get a care package that said, Study hard. These are all the snacks you need to make sure youre studying hard.

I had a lot of support from them, and Ill never forget that.

After earning his bachelors degree in social work, Tinsley kept Adams on as a graduate assistant for two more years, allowing him to get a masters in public administration as well. And Tinsley wasnt just his coach; he was another man who provided Adams with items to carry in his lifes toolbox.

He helped me grow as a man, Adams said. He taught me how to handle the coaching world. He taught me how to buy a house. He taught me how to buy a car. To this day, before I accept I job, I call him and talk to him about it.

Tinsley also helped Adams secure his first full-time job, as an assistant coach at Tarleton State in Texas. Adams spent four years at Tarleton and went to the University of Montevallo in Alabama for two seasons. Finally, he was reunited with old Pembroke coach when Tinsley brought him on to the staff at Northeastern State in Oklahoma.

But by then, Adams had rekindled a friendship with Anna Craun. He and Craun had first met as students at Ashbrook, but they didnt date. But the more they talked as adults, the closer they became. Soon, they fell in love and got engaged and had a daughter, Kinleigh, who quickly stole her daddys heart.

I asked Adams what his interests are other than basketball, and he scoffed.

If it aint basketball, its spending time with my family, he said. I love spending time with my little girl. People tell me all the time that shes spoiled. Shes the spitting image of you. She looks just like you, she acts just like you. I love her so much.

But life as a college assistant coach can be grueling for a family man, what with all the recruiting trips, film study, practices and getting home late at night from games.

During his days as a college assistant coach, Jabarr Adams shares a moment with a University of Montevallo player.

Adams embraced it all, seeing it as a necessary process to fulfill his dream of one day becoming a college head coach. But he soon realized something wasnt right. The price was becoming just too much to pay.

What brought me back to the high school (coaching) world was my little girl, he explained. She was born in Texas, and my familys been all over the world with me. We didnt get to see family (in North Carolina) much. We used to come home (to Gastonia) one time a year, for seven days. Thats it. After the seven days, wed go back where we lived.

My last year in Oklahoma, we came home and left, but my little girl cried half the way back to Oklahoma. I knew right then, Its time for me to move closer to family. She needs to know who her family is.

Just like that, Adams gave up coaching in college. He moved back to Gaston County and became an assistant coach at Ashbrook for one season, helping the Greenwave reach the state playoffs in 2017-18. It was fun, but he aspired to be a head coach.

After the year at Ashbrook, then-Mallard Creek athletics director Philip Davanzo III now at Cox Mill gave Adams his first chance to lead a program.

With Adams leading the way, the Mavericks reached the state playoffs for two years in a row. It was no small feat in the I-MECK 4A Conference, which also was home to heavyweights like North Mecklenburg, which was declared 4A state co-champion after this years title game was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Vance.

Adams also coached Mallard Creek, which opened in 2007 and has been known from Day 1 as a football school, to its first home playoff game in program history.

Adams was ready to continue coaching the Mavericks for the 2020-21, which would have been his third at Mallard Creek. But there was something about the West Cabarrus job that appealed to him when it officially became open.

Im excited about opening a new school, he said. Im intrigued to see how the talent pool is going to roll over to West Cabarrus. A lot of people are telling me that a lot of talent is coming to West Cabarrus.

I understand that this is going to be a process. But when I took the job at Mallard Creek, I knew that was going to be a process. At Mallard Creek, youre labeled as a football school; West Cabarrus is not labeled as anything. Its just West Cabarrus, the brand new school. Im really excited about the possibilities.

Adams is looking forward to leaving his imprint at West. More important, hes looking forward to helping more young men, making a difference the way so many coaches did in his life.

He knows that coach is a job title, but difference-maker has to be in the lead paragraph of the job description.

Its why Adams says he goes about his business the way he does.

I pour a lot of time into my team, he said. We do things outside of school. I spend time with my players on Saturdays after practice. We go have lunch together. I want them to feel genuinely that I love them. I care about them outside of basketball. I care about their academics. I care about them in and out of season.

Coming back to high school has been a great opportunity for me. Its given me an opportunity to be a head coach but also give back to the kids on the high school level. Usually, when you get college kids, theyre pretty much molded. They pretty much know where they want to go. With high school kids, theyre so up in the air about what they want to do in life. So if Im able to help them get in the right direction, thats what Im going to do.

The years have flown by since Adams himself was the teenager in search of something, anything other than winding up on the wrong sides of the stories about the west end of Gastonia.

New West Cabarrus boys basketball coach Jabarr Adams with his fiancee Anna and daughter Kinleigh.

He and his mother, Sheryl, are closer than ever.

Hes established a relationship with his father now.

Kinleigh is 7, well on her way to becoming a young lady.

On Dec. 12, Adams and Anna are going to exchange their wedding vows.

And in the midst of it all, Adams will be doing what he loves: giving back by paying it forward on the hardwood with this new batch of Wolverines.

Hes thankful. He constantly calls himself blessed. And every now and then, Adams drives through his old neighborhood, reminiscing about both the good and bad times. Hes reminded of the things that couldve held him back, and he definitely remembers the things and people that made sure he wasnt.

Good coaches never stop teaching, and the really good ones never stop learning.

It was definitely hard growing up, but I think it made me the person I am today, said Adams, who's still a Gaston County resident in nearby Mount Holly. It gave me the drive that I have to be successful. All that entails who I am today.

The great Satchel Paige once famously said, Dont look back something might be gaining on you. But every once in a while, its helpful to go and take a look back.

So you can see just how far youve come.

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C. JEMAL HORTON: West Cabarrus' Adams shows gratitude to those who helped him by paying it forward - Independent Tribune

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May 17th, 2020 at 10:46 pm

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Jackie Sherrill: ‘A lot of mistakes I’ve made in my life. Leaving Pitt was one of them.’ – TribLIVE

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Its been 39 years since Jackie Sherrills last game as head coach of the Pitt Panthers.

After three straight 11-1 seasons, four bowl victories and a career record of 50-9-1, he now sounds like someone who wishes he had never left.

Theres a lot of mistakes Ive made in my life. Leaving Pitt was one of them, Sherrill told me Wednesday.

Sherrill made the comments while discussing his induction to the University of Pittsburgh Athletics Hall of Fame. That news was released Tuesday. The ceremony will take place Oct. 16 at Heinz Field.

Hell join the likes of fellow Panther football legends Craig Ironhead Heyward, Curtis Martin, Bob Peck and Glenn Scobey Pop Warner. Basketball standout Brandin Knight and former baseball star Ken Macha are also among the inductees.

Sherrills relatively brief but successful tenure ended after the 1981 season, when he accepted a $1.6 million deal at Texas A&M.

Thats $1.6 million over five years, by the way. A number that was shockingly high in 1982. At the time, that was a record contract for a college football coach.

Sherrills estimated total compensation package when he left Pitt was $175,000. He was also said to be dubious of some looming changes within the structure of the athletic department.

As a result, Sherrill zipped down to College Station, where he won the Southwest Conference three times and had a 52-28-1 record over six years with the Aggies. After a 7-5 season in 1988 and a two-year probation levied by the NCAA, Sherrill resigned. Two years later, he went to Mississippi State and won a school-record 75 games. But he enjoyed just two bowl wins in 13 seasons while slogging through the challenging SEC and finished with a record of 75-75-2 there.

So, despite 127 coaching victories in two major conferences after leaving Pitt, Sherrill still regrets his decision to leave Western Pennsylvania. Especially when the Panthers were as good as they were. After all, quarterback Dan Marino was about to enter his senior season.

If (Sherrill and his family) had stayed, I have no doubt, with the team we had, we wouldve won it all in 82. Certainly, with Danny being the leader that he was, Sherrill said.

Maybe. Marinos senior season wasnt as good as his previous years with the Panthers. Perhaps that wouldve been different if Sherrill stayed.

There were rumblings in the early 90s that Sherrill may come back to Pitt. I asked Sherrill whether the temptation ever flashed through his mind.

It certainly did, Sherrill said. But it didnt materialize. It kind of passed real quickly.

Sherrill wasnt done there, giving a few more notable nuggets.

On his desire that Pitt still played football on campus: I wished that they had never moved the stadium away from Pitt, Sherrill said. I always felt they couldve built the colosseum up (on the top of the hill) and be able to have a walkway built. Have luxury boxes built in the stadium. Remodel it. And have people walk back and forth.

Sherrill bemoaned the empty seats at Heinz Field, particularly on days when he thinks the team may be drawing enough fans to look like a satisfactory turn out.

Heinz Field is very difficult, Sherrill continued. You have over 60,000. And even if its not full, you could still have a good crowd.

Optimism of seeing college football in the fall of 2020: You have a lot of people in a lot of universities saying yes, they are going to be open. When you get quite a few saying they will be open, a lot of people will follow suit.

What if a college football playoff existed during his years coaching the Panthers: We wouldve been there three, four, maybe five years if there had been a playoff.

On eventually patching up his relationship with Joe Paterno: The former Penn State coach was known to take a shot or two at Sherrill, particularly in the wake of an alleged 1978 recruiting feud.

It was a fierce competition, Sherrill said.

Years later, I was invited to Penn State for a game. I spent time with coach Paterno at his house and at a recruiting dinner he had. He had me speak to the team. I said, Coach, Im only here because you invited my wife, and Im a tagalong, Sherrill recalled. And he said, Well, maybe thats true.

A couple years later, they played A&M in the Alamo Bowl and I went up to him and wished him good luck. He put his arms around my shoulders, looked me square in the eye, and said, Jackie, you dont mean that.

Sherrill paused.

And I laughed and said, Well, maybe thats true.

There is plenty more from Sherrill in our podcast about coaching Marino, seeing the Steelers pass on him in the draft, and what life was like coaching as one of the Eastern Independents.

LISTEN: Former football coach Jackie Sherrill looks back at his time at Pitt

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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Jackie Sherrill: 'A lot of mistakes I've made in my life. Leaving Pitt was one of them.' - TribLIVE

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May 17th, 2020 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Life Coaching

Colonie football field to be named after former coach Ambrosio – The Daily Gazette

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Ambrosio, who died in January 2019, spent 14 seasons as Garnet Raiders' head coach

The football field at Colonie High School will be named in honor of former coach Mike Ambrosio.

Colonie High School will be naming its football field in honor of the late Mike Ambrosio, following a recent vote by the district's board of education.

Ambrosio, who led the Garnet Raiders varsity football team for 14 seasons ending in 2011, diedin January 2019 at the age of 64.

"I coached football with him and taught physical education with him for a long time, and he was such a genuine guy," Colonie athletic director Joe Guardino said. "People trusted him, and he'd tell you the truth. He was a very positive guy. So up-beat. Kids found him to be very approachable."

Ambrosio taught physical education at Colonie from 1985 through 2017, and also coached lower-level football, wrestling, track and lacrosse in his time there.

"Kids who didn't play for him but had him in gym class years later would say he was a nice guy," Guardino said.

Guardino said the naming of the field in Ambrosio's honor was endorsed by numerous community members.

"We have a website where people are able to chime in with public comments, and it was overwhelming. So many thought it was a great idea," Guardino said. "I submitted the application, but it was backed by a lot of people."

"He never forgot that it was about kids, and that he was there to teach and be a role model," state football coordinator Gary VanDerzee had said at the time of Ambrosio's death.

Guardinosaid a committee will be formed to work out details, such as the manner in which Ambrosio's name will be permanently displayed at the fieldand when the field dedication will take place.

"It's going to happen," Guardino said. "A lot of things are still to be determined."

"You couldnt put a more deserving name on the field! One of the truly nicest gentlemen to ever coach football in Section 2," former Troy head football coach and current Schuylerville assistant Jack Burger wrote on his Twitter page.

Ambrosio's 1998 Colonie team pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in Section II football playoff history when it erased a 27-0 deficit and beat Shenendehowa 47-33 in a semifinal game. One of Ambrosio's many standout players, R.J.Harvey, scored four touchdowns in that victory.

"Considering the situation and the importance of the game, it ranks up there as one of the all-time greats," VanDerzee had said. "For the players, it was a lifetime experience. You don't remember the test in math class at your 30th, 40th, 50th reunion. That's what they'll talk about."

Ambrosio's 14 varsity football teams posted an overall 66-62 record. Eleven of them made Section II playoff appearances, and three reached Class AA championship games.

"It's hard to place just football on his legacy," Guardino said. "He was known for a lot of things."

Ambrosio was a big supporter of all Colonie athletic teams.

"He was one of the most visible physical education teachers and coaches I've ever known," Guardino said. "He was at all the events. He was everywhere."

Ambrosio stepped away from his varsity football coaching role in the 2008season so he could watch his son Mark compete as a senior at Shaker, and returned to his position afterward for three more seasons.

"He taught kids about teamwork. Commitment to excellence. He instilled in the kids things they could take into life," Colonie varsity baseball coach and longtime friend Kevin Halburian said of Ambrosio. "He preached life."

ReachJim Schiltz at[emailprotected]or@jim_schiltzon Twitter.

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Colonie football field to be named after former coach Ambrosio - The Daily Gazette

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May 17th, 2020 at 10:46 pm

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Walker: New Orleans youth coaching icon Firmin Simms lived to be 91, but his legacy will surely live forever –

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It's been 40 years since Will Clark last played a baseball game for Firmin Simms.

Yet Clark still made it a point to always make a phone call and reach out to Simms at least once a year.

That's the type of impact Simms had on every single life he touched.

"He was just such a big influence growing up," Clark said. "Not just baseball, but off the field-wise too."

Simms, one of the most influential men in New Orleans youth sports, died of natural causes on May 9.

He lived 91 years.

His legacy is sure to live on even longer because of how much he meant to the life of not only Clark, but everyone he ever coached.

That list reads like a Who's Who of athletes from New Orleans, stretching from the baseball diamond to the basketball court to the football field.

Former major leaguers like Clark and Rusty Staub, basketball stars like Sean Tuohy, Kerry Kittles and D.J. Augustine, and ex-NFL running back Leroy Hoard played for Simms at some point.

"The list just goes on and on," said David Moreau, one of Simms' former players who is the athletic director at Jesuit High School. "And it's in so many walks of life. Priests. Teachers. Principals. Doctors. Lawyers. And so many of those people did so many things for so many other people. So he's a legacy coach. The things he taught you were so far beyond the ball fields and courts. They were things that you go on to teach your children and grandchildren."

Simms was inducted into the Allstate Sugar Bowl Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and is also in the Babe Ruth Baseball Hall of Fame. His inclusion into both were surely no-brainers.

Simms' teams made it to the Babe Ruth World Series 16 times. They won it all five times.

He also won 10 national championships for Biddy Basketball and one world title. Simms went on to become the national director for Biddy Basketball for more than two decades.

A coaching career that began as a teenager at St. Cecilia and Bunny Friend Playground in the Ninth Ward eventually took him all over the world and into the lives of so many.

"There is no doubt in my mind that had I not played ball for Firmin Simms, that the good things that happened in my life in athletics would not have occurred," Moreau said. "I think all of us felt that way."

How did Simms find the time to do all that he did, going from one sport to another for 365 days of the year while also working a full-time job?

"I have no idea, to tell you the truth," Moreau said. "Any of us who ever played for him are grateful to his family for the sacrifices they made so he could make the sacrifices he made to have an impact on the lives of all of us who played for him."

Simms made those he coached better baseball and basketball and football players.

But more importantly, he made them better people.

His faith was important to him. Taking his players to Mass after a game or practice was common. So were prayer services in hotels on road trips.

"All of his teams knew God was first, teammates came second and 'I' was last," said Jerry Simms, his son.

George Hebbler, an attorney, still attends Mass every day because of Simms.

"He brought God onto the playing field for us," Hebbler said. "He made great men out of boys. He was just a prince of a guy who really deserves more accolades than he received. But I don't think he ever cared about accolades. If we had more men like him in this world, what a great place it would be."

A funeral Mass for Simms will be held Friday at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Metairie. Visitation for the general public will be held at the church from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Until then, those who knew Simms will continue to share stories about their former coach. They'll talk about the games and the road trips. They'll mention the lessons. They'll bring up "De Colores," a song that Simms often taught his players. The song, popular in Spanish culture, is also often used in the Catholic church. It's a song about things like loving all colors and God's grace and bringing souls to Christ.

"That's what he really believed in, and that was his cause," Clark said.

In fact, some often just refer to Simms as "De Colores." And others, like Clark, simply just called him "Coach."

But as David Moreau's brother Doug will tell you, Simms wasn't just a coach.

"He was about developing good people and faithful people," Doug Moreau said. "It was about what they became as men. And to him that was bigger than any wins or championships."

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral Mass at 2 p.m. on May 22 at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 105 Bonnabel Blvd, Metairie, with a private burial to follow. The funeral Mass will be live-streamed from the church for those who are unable to attend. Live streaming can be accessed here: A visitation for the general public will be held at the church from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Continued here:
Walker: New Orleans youth coaching icon Firmin Simms lived to be 91, but his legacy will surely live forever -

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