Just heard last night and then confirmed this morning that my good friend Jim Place retired as head football coach at Hamilton High School. Our friendship goes back over 20 years. One thing really nice is that he is 62 years young, which is one year older than I. He makes me feel young.
We became friends way back, when Martin Bayless and Keith Byars ran a football camp for Dayton area youngsters. Jim was really the local coach who did most of the behind the scenes work and actually ran the camp. Jim was highly respected by the pro players who made appearances and actually worked the camp. One camp, he asked me to speak to the campers about recruiting. His doing that and believing in me really left an impression. Ever since then I have been a Jim Place fan.
He is a "kid's guy." There is simply no other way to put it. He just has a loyalty that the kids believe in. When you have that communication line with kids and coaches, your job sometimes becomes harder. Why? Because you worry about the kids personally and you take their problems home with you. Not all coaches do that.
No need to go over Jim's accomplishments, among which is a career record 0f 223-161-3 as a head coach. Of course, the list could go on and on. More importantly, I wish I could list all of the coaches and players who have been influenced by Jim Place. Of course, that would take time and space. The list would be very lengthy. Of cousre, you know my is way too valuable to do that!!! (a little attempt at humor)
For me, I just want people to realize there are still Jim Place's in high school football. You know, the kind who are "gray beards," but continue to work with kids to develop character and to show some "male love," which is much needed in our society. As I travel across the state evaluating and meeting kids, I worry that young coaches are more concerned about " football schemes" and " personal recognition," rather than what it is really all about. Wins and losses are, without question, really important, but the development of character in kids should be the real goal of every teacher and coach.
Thank you, my good friend, for your friendship and your trust over all of these years. Thank you for asking me to speak at the camp. But most of all, thank you for being a "kid's guy."