This article was written by the great James Webb, former head coach at North Hardin High School and current official, to honor a group of coaches that have had an incredible impact on our sport in Kentucky. Thank you James for your words and heartfelt thanks to a group of coaches who have impacted thousands of lives.
The Louisville Urban League, responsible for building the Norton Health Care Sports & Learning Center, recently celebrated twelve track coaches in Jefferson County.
When I saw the photo of the twelve track coaches, I was flooded with pride, respect, brotherhood, admiration, love, professionalism, honor, and dedication.
Seeing these faces made me realize I knew each one of these coaches and most of them on a personal level. I had the pleasure of coaching against them. I learned from them, emulated them, wanted to be respected like they were, and, most importantly, earned their respect.
When I came into Coaching in 1991, I was a first-year coach at North Hardin High School, starting my career in education for Hardin County Schools. I had a tremendous mentor in Coach Rudy McKinney, a former KHSAA long jump state champion and collegiate track athlete at Tennessee Tech University. I did not participate in track & field in high school, so as I began learning the sport, I watched and listened more than I spoke. I always asked these coaches questions, picked their brains, and tried to find ways to improve the athletes I was coaching. I wanted my athletes to compete well and get the attention of these twelve amazing coaches.
The photo of the devoted dozen includes coaches Geary Morton, James Holman, Rita Holman, Chris Goodwin, Don Goodwin, Edward Newton, Sherri Beaumont, Mike McMcoy, Clint Lovely, Otis Ralston, William "Jelly" Green, and James Greer. These coaches were special to me; I had all but one of them in my contacts on my cell phone.
Coach Geary Morton, 39 years of coaching at Doss, Male, Central, and Shawnee High School, always had a positive word for me. He was genuine and always asked about my family and how they were doing. I respected and admired how his athletes competed for him.
Coach James Holman, 50 years of coaching at Butler, Male, and Eastern High School, was always friendly. He was a wealth of history, and I thoroughly enjoyed his stories of past amazing athletes he coached. I was always impressed with his relay teams. Watching his son Rashaad progress through high school and college and become a professional football player was awesome.
Coach Rita Holman has 40 years of coaching at Bulter and Male. As long as I can remember, she and her husband, James, were always coaching together. It was always nice to see a married couple have the same passion for coaching. She was one of the first African American women coaches I recall meeting. Always kind, Coach Holman had a fiercely competitive spirit when her athletes were competing.
Coach Chris Goodwin, 44 years at Ballard, Central, Shawnee, Atherton, and Eastern Kentucky University, was a quiet force. I considered him part of Kentucky's First Family of track and field. I knew his younger brother Jeff, a stand-out 800m runner, from my college days at EKU. His daughter Rosalind, a multi-state champion and current head coach at The Ohio State University, was amazing to watch compete. Not until I was a graduate assistant at EKU did I learn how successful Chris was as a track athlete at EKU.
Coach Don Goodwin, 35 years at Ballard, Shawnee, Atherton, Moore, and Jeffersonville High School in Indiana, was one of the most laid-back coaches I would watch. His athletes were always talented and usually had some elite-level competitors. Don's athletes were special, from Ronnie Baker to this year's Kameron Horton, who won the rare 110H and 100M combo. Coach Goodwin is a true track junkie and historian. He always had a camera, providing the state with many wonderful track memories.
Coach Edward Newton 37 years at Male, Ballard, Shawnee, and Central, was a larger-than-life presence in Kentucky's track and field community. A very vocal coach, Coach Newton could always be heard encouraging his athletes when competing. You could hear him coaching from across the stadium. His passion for the sport and his athletes inspired me more than he would ever know.
Coach Sherrie Beaumont, 34 years at Ballard and Male, was one of the few African American women coaches, and I enjoyed watching her interact with her athletes. A fiery personality, Coach Beaumont was very competitive and wanted to beat your team. With a wonderful sense of humor, she was always on the move at a meet, checking on her athletes around the venue. She never sat still. Watching her son Douglass progress into the college ranks was special to watch.
Coach Mike McCoy, 43 years at Eastern, Male, and my alma mater Fort Knox High School, was my high school football coach and teacher. Simply put, Coach McCoy was a hero in my eyes. He coached me to become a starting defensive back on a returning undefeated state championship team. He is an incredible motivator, teacher, and mentor. The strength and confidence with which he carries himself projects through to his athletes and has stuck with me to this day. A team coached by McCoy will always have some solid hurdlers.
Coach Clint Lovely, 50 years at Central, Ballard, Valley, Shawnee, Western, and Fairdale, is a wealth of sports history in Louisville. When Coach Lovely told me he coached Geary Morton, I realized this hero has been working with the youth in Louisville for a long time. Coach Lovely has touched so many lives it is impossible to fathom. He's provided my partners and me the opportunity to gain valuable experience managing and timing track meets at Fairdale.
Coach Otis Ralston, 41 years at Valley, Atherton, Presentation, Doss, Iroquois, Central, Manual, and Bellarmine University. When I learned Coach Ralston was a former Marine, I understood why I was drawn to him. I always sought him out to say hello when our teams were at the same track meet. I loved his quiet demeanor and passion for kids. Watching his son develop into an awesome high school and college athlete was special.
Coach William "Jelly" Green, 40 years at Manual Shawnee, Seneca, Male, and Brown. Coach Green always greeted you with a smile. His demeanor was always upbeat and positive. I remember watching him communicate with one of his athletes and how this young man maintained eye contact with Coach Green the entire time. That left an impression on me to this day. Coach Green had two outstanding sons who dominated track and field when they were competing. One was a stud sprinter, and the other was a thrower. They were awesome to watch compete. Coach Green has not aged to me since I first met him. He is a class act!
Coach James Greer, 36 years at Ballard, Waggener, Shawnee, Western, and Central. Coach Greer was so incredibly humble and kind. He was always cordial. Very friendly, Coach Greer would always encourage his athletes in a quiet fashion. His calm, cool, and collected mannerisms always stuck with me. I loved his gentle kindness when coaching his athletes.
I am ecstatic that the Urban League recognized these amazing coaches. Their recognition is well overdue. They unknowingly mentored a young coach like me 36 years ago. I can not imagine how many athletes these 12 coaches have positively impacted. With nearly 500 years of experience recognized by the Urban League, I am excited to see them still coaching. I retired after 25 years, and to see these coaches still making championships, I am honored to witness their commitment to the youth and sport of track and field in Louisville and Kentucky! They are Track Royalty!!!!