I grew up when Diff'rent Strokes was a popular television show. That's no big deal unless your last name is Willis. To this day I still hear those famous words popularized by Arnold: "Whatchu talkin bout Willis?" Usually they are uttered by someone looking at me as though I may have never heard it before. Yeah, right! Well this blog is what I (Willis) am talkin bout...my thoughts, observations & opinions. Enjoy...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Coach Bacote

I received a call yesterday informing me that my high school football coach, Ted Bacote, had died. Here is part of the obituary that appeared today.

NEWPORT NEWS - Theodore "Ted" Edward BaCote Jr., died June 1, 2009, at Sentara Careplex Hospital. He was born in Ansonia, Conn., and was one of three children born to Nancy Saunders and Theodore BaCote Sr. He was the husband of Delegate Mamye E. BaCote of Newport News, Va. Mr. BaCote graduated from Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va., where he excelled as a football player and was captain of the 1959 undefeated football team. He taught and coached in the Newport News School System from 1951 to 1991. He was a dedicated passionate teacher and coach.

I've been influenced by many different people throughout my life, but my high school football coach was definitely one of the most significant. Coach Bacote was a profound influence on me during those formative teenage years when I moved from boyhood into manhood. I remember my early encounters with Coach - he was quite intimidating! It may be hard to believe but I still regularly refer to Coach Bacote even now - some 26 years after my graduation! His influence still looms large in the Willis family too. I was very honored many years ago when his wife Mamye asked me to speak at a "Roast" in his honor. A few years later she and Coach were at my wedding. I saw him most recently when I noticed him entering a barber shop. I stopped, went in and we chatted. He was exactly the same. Coach was "old school" and he worked with a rough bunch of guys most of the time. He employed some "techniques" that would not be acceptable today, but he helped many boys become men and stear clear of the temptations and pitfalls that encumbered many of our peers. He was hard on us and we are better because of it. Coach could motivate like no one else. I still remember his daily "sermonettes" before (& sometimes after) footbal practice. I've used many of his stories in my sermons throughout the years. I like to the think he was the earliest preacher I heard and that I acquired some of my style from him. Coach would not tolerate quitters or guys who weren't part of the team. He touched untold numbers of lives and will be greatly missed. I thank God for Coach Bacote's impact on my life.

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