“You Must've Been A Beautiful Baby, You Must've Been A Wonderful Child ...!”
That song elicits strong memories from my childhood days of growing up in the Uptown/Carrollton area of New Orleans.
How can anyone who admits to his or her baby booming age and had attended Holy Name of Jesus Elementary School, next to Loyola University, in the 60s and 70s not remember the late and fabled Coach William Rappold?
Coach had that Vince Lombardi tough discipline-type demeanor and attitude, but he also had etched into his psyche a warm, loving and outreaching heart, as well as a transparent devotion to God.
Anyone who ever encountered Coach will surely recall first being touched by that first paragraph song greeting from him. Sure, he was tall, stocky and well developed, as well as having a very commanding voice, but once he started singing to you as he often did, “Bing Crosby” would take over.
Yes, he could sternly handle anyone getting out of control or being disrespectful to him, and I certainly witnessed a few of those “backside bashing” moments done to kids. But those corrective measures never went overboard – and we all certainly got the message loud and clear. I had to be corrected a few times by Coach for dragging my recess times too long before returning to classes.
But talk about a good sense of humor? I fondly recall once when he was testing Scott, one of my best friends, about what could have helped him to hit better in baseball.
Once, in a schoolyard game, when the strikeout rule was already long passed for Scott, I chuckle, now as I remember when Coach told Scott what might help: “Oh, it looks like you're using the wrong bat; Scott, go to my office and get a “right-handed bat!”
Scott promptly put down what he thought was a left-handed bat and high-tailed it to the athletic supply room! We all had a good laugh about this, including Scott, as no demeaning or put down intents were in Coach's fabric – just fun ribbing.
My favorite times with Coach were at the end of the school year, which entailed competition of the field and track type events. How exciting it was for me to usually win the 100-yard dash races for my grades and get a big blue ribbon from Coach Rappold!
Thank you, Coach Rappold, for all that you taught me and us about sports, teamwork, and life in general – especially in respecting one's elders and honoring God.
“You Must've Been A Beautiful Coach, You Certainly Lived A Wonderful Life!”