Happy 90th Birthday, Coach Blake!

90th birthday Blake

Is it Hump Day already?!

Happy Hump Day …. yeaaah! On an even happier note, today I would like to wish Maurice Blake a Happy 90th Birthday!!! Those of you who have been with me for over 500 blog posts now may remember my mentioning of a fantastic gentleman, coach and mentor, friend and athletic director at St. Paul’s School circa 1970’s. He was my football coach at SPS and truly like the second adult I met when shipped off to Concord, NH as part of a scholarship I had earned with the help of Daniel Woodard, Assistant Principal at White Plains High School who also worked with the Urban League of Westchester County … White Plains to be exact!

Yes, Coach Blake was my coach then for both football and basketball. He saw something in me that perhaps I didn’t see. As I worked in the office yesterday, this same “something” came out as I struggled to close some deals at my day job! It is the determination to succeed! Coach saw this in me back then, and, as me and others … Larry Woody, Jose Wiltshire, Kevin Gover, both Bobby Hipp and Mike Russell (RIP … boys) just to name a few … sought to integrate ourselves into the fabric of an all boys private Episcopalian boarding school in Concord, NH, Coach Blake was often there! Coach Blake, who had served in the US Armed Forces … Navy I believe … during World War II and had actually rubbed shoulders with some of the “Tuskeegee Airmen”, was much more than a coach!! While I had no idea back then, we have been friends for over 40 years now. He has been in my e-mail family for several years and, a few years ago, I had the privilege of meeting up with he and Mrs. Blake near Vero Beach for a lunch one Saturday afternoon at a rib restaurant there! I hadn’t seen him in many many years … and … there we were, snacking on fries and ribs at one of those roadside “joints” with finger licking ribs grilling!! It was something I will never forget. He is someone I will never forget!

Now, I had my Dad at home at that time, circa 1969, who I believe got a glimpse of Coach Blake during that first “Parent’s Weekend”. Ike and Mary drove from White Plains, NY to Concord, NH to see where their “baby boy” was going to school, and, got to see me play football as it was one of the highlights of “Parent’s Weekend” that autumn in New England at the preparatory school. I can remember some of the late practices that SPS Basketball had with me and the boys doing a “leap frog” drill for conditioning. Coach Blake was determined to help us integrate into that formerly “WASP” boarding school. That’s not to mention our red suede Converse sneakers and red wrist and head bands to accompany the new “red” basketball uniforms that Coach had ordered for us that year!!! After all, we were all “Big Red”, as the Pelicans of St. Paul’s were known on the gridiron and the basketball court, too! Coach helped to make SPS a “home away from home” for this teen-aged boy from The Winbrook Projects in White Plains. I thank you, Sir, for every moment of your time that you spent with me … coaching, mentoring, even consoling me when I missed that darn foul shot to end our basketball season my senior year …. I can only say how proud I am to know you, Sir, to have been amongst those young lives that you touched over your many years of coaching and directing athletic departments.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COACH BLAKE!

Peace,

John I. Cook

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ken Chiarito
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 15:28:33

    Great tribute!

    Sent from my fingertips.

    >

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  2. excelwitheducationalexcellence
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 15:30:59

    Thanks, KC!!!

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  3. Sharon Blake Savoy
    Aug 07, 2014 @ 15:01:45

    Thank you John for a wonderful tribute to my dad. My father loved coaching more than one can imagine. Fond memories of “his boys” are a big part of his life today. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on his 90th I am sure it meant the world to him.

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    • excelwitheducationalexcellence
      Aug 07, 2014 @ 15:14:52

      Hello Sharon, thanks for your reply. We have been friends for many years and not just regular friends. He entrusted me with keeping our basketball squad up to par. He has been a member of my e-mail family and replies regularly. I haven’t met you, if I recall correctly, but Big Mike and I have been friends, too! He will always be a gem in my book … Coach Blake … and your family, too!

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  4. David Melody
    Sep 17, 2016 @ 01:28:17

    Loved reading this. We were so lucky to know him. He certainly was there for me when I needed it!

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    • excelwitheducationalexcellence
      Sep 17, 2016 @ 23:11:33

      You know, Dave, I remember you fairly well … I just thought your name was cool so I wanted to see what was behind it!! Just a school kids curiosity. Good to know that Good Ole Coach as he likes to call himself touched so many or our lives … he loved helping folks, “running things” and creating excellent athletes and athletic teams. Thanks for reading

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