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Now read the second part and try to find an answer to the following question: Why does the author call Coach Rake a great motivator
As soon as he sat down, a thick-chested black gentleman in a gray suit stood and marched with great dignity to the podium. Under his jacket was the green jersey. He looked up and gazed upon the crowd packed tightly together.
“Good afternoon,” he announced with a voice that needed no microphone. “I’m Reverend Collis Suggs, of the Bethel Church of God in Christ, here in Messina.”
Collis Suggs needed no introduction to anyone who lived within fifty miles of Messina. Eddie Rake had appointed him as the first black captain in 1970. He played briefly at Florida A&M before breaking
Thirty years in the pulpit had honed his speaking skills to perfection. His diction was perfect, his timing and pitch were captivating. Coach Rake was known to sneak into the rear pew of the Bethel church on Sunday nights just to hear his former player preach.
“I played for Coach Rake in ‘69 and ‘70.” Most of those in the crowd had seen every game. “In late July 1969 most schools in the South were still segregated. The Court took drastic action, and it changed our lives forever. One hot summer night, we were playing basketball in the gym at Section High, the colored school, when Coach Thomas walked in said, “Boys, we’re going’ to Messina High School. You’re going to be Spartans. Get on the bus.” About a dozen of us loaded on the bus, and Coach Thomas drove us across town. We were confused and scared. We had been told many times that the schools would be integrated, but deadlines had come and gone. We knew Messina High had the finest of everything — beautiful buildings, nice fields, a huge gym, lots of trophies, a football team that had won, at that time, something like fifty or sixty straight. And they had a coach who thought he was Vince Lombardi. Yes we were intimidated, but we knew we had to be brave. We arrived at Messina High that night. The football team was lifting weights in this huge weight room, more weights than I had ever seen in my life. About forty guys pumping iron, sweating, music going. As soon as we walked in, everything was quiet. They looked at us. We looked at them. Eddie Rake walked over, shook hands with Coach Thomas, and said, “Welcome to your new school.” He made us all shake hands, then he sat us down on the mats and gave us a little speech. He said he didn’t care what color we were. All his players wore green. His playing field was perfectly level. Hard work won games, and he didn’t believe in losing. I remember sitting there on that rubber mat, mesmerized by this man. He immediately became my Coach. Eddie Rake was many things, but he was the greatest motivator I’ve ever met. I wanted to put on the pads and start hitting people right then.”
“Two weeks later we started two-a-day practices in August, and
“There was a lot of concern about the first day of classes, about fights and racial conflict. And most schools saw a lot of it. Not here. The principal put Coach Rake in charge of security, and everything went smoothly. He put all of his players in green game jerseys, same ones we’re wearing right now, and he paired us up, a black player with a white player. When the buses rolled in, we were there to greet them. The first thing the black kids saw at Messina High was the football team, black and white players together, everybody wearing green. A couple of hotheads wanted some trouble, but we convinced them otherwise.”
“The first controversy was over the cheerleaders. The white girls had been practicing all summer as a squad. Coach Rake went to the principal and said half and half would work just fine. And it did. Still does. Next came the band. There wasn’t enough money to combine the white band and the black band and have everybody march in Messina uniforms. Some kids would get cut. It looked like most of those left on the sideline would be black. Coach Rake went to the booster club, said he needed twenty thousand dollars for new band uniforms. Said Messina would have the largest high school marching band in the state, and we still do.”
“There was a lot of resistance to integration. Many white folks thought it was only temporary. Once the courts got finished, then everything would revert back to the old system of separate but equal. I’m here to tell you, separate was never equal. There was a lot of speculation on our side of town about whether the white coaches would actually play us black kids. And there was a lot of pressure from the white side of town to play white kids only. After three weeks of practice with Eddie Rake, we knew the truth. Our first game that year was against North Delta. They hit the field all-white. Had about fifteen black guys on the bench. I knew some of them, knew they could play. Rake put the best players on the field, and we soon realized that North Delta did not. It was a slaughter. At halftime, we were leading forty-one to nothing. When the second half started, the black kids came off the bench for North Delta, and, I have to admit, we relaxed a little. Problem was, nobody relaxed with Eddie Rake. If he caught you loafing on the field, then you got to stay on the sideline with him.”
“Word spread that Messina was starting their black kids, and soon the issue was settled all over the state.”
“Eddie Rake was the first white man who ever yelled at me and made me like it. Once I realized that he truly did not care about the color of my skin, then I knew I would follow him anywhere. He hated injustice. Because he wasn’t from here, he brought a different perspective. No person had the right to mistreat another, and if Coach Rake got wind of it then a fight was coming. For all of his toughness, he was terribly sensitive to the suffering of others. After I became a minister, Coach Rake would come to our church and work in our outreach programs. He opened his home to abandoned and abused children. He never made much money as a Coach, but he was generous when someone needed food or clothing or even tuition. He coached youth teams in the summer. Of course, knowing Rake, he was also looking for the boys who could run. He organized fishing rodeos for kids with no fathers. Typically, he never sought recognition for any of this.”
7. Comment on Coach Rake`s methods to fight segregation as depicted by one of his Afro-American players:
1. He made us all shake hands, then he sat us down on the mats and gave us a little speech. He said he didn’t care what color we were. All his players wore green. His playing field was perfectly level.
2. Skin color didn’t matter. He treated us all like dogs, equally.
3. Eddie Rake was the first white man who ever yelled at me and made me like it.
4. Once I realized that he truly did not care about the color of my skin, then I knew I would follow him anywhere. He hated injustice.
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