When Bill Tighe retired as head coach of Lexington (Mass.) High after his team's Thanksgiving Day victory last month, the 86-year-old was celebrated as the nation's oldest prep head coach in any sport. While Tighe did much to earn all the accolades that followed his highly successful and very lengthy career, his departure created a void: Who, now, can officially be called the oldest high school coach in the country?
Well, if that search is extended to include assistant coaches, there's a man who is still coaching who was already older than Tighe: Marlow (Okla.) High assistant football and track coach Bill Carter, who still spends every single day on a high school sideline at the ripe old age of 88.
That's right folks, there's an 88-year-old man patrolling the high school sidelines and barking instructions at teenagers in Oklahoma, hoping to help improve the team and keep himself young in the process. Somewhat ironically, the small senior citizen specializes in teaching defensive-line techniques, and also still competes in the U.S. Track and Field senior games, where he has set a number of different records for farthest discus throw for his respective age group as he has advanced through them as he has grown older.
Yet Carter's true passion comes from coaching teenagers on the football field and the track, where he is also an assistant coach for the school's weight throwers. According to the Marlow Review, the school held an appreciation ceremony for the coach earlier this year, at halftime of a 27-0 Outlaws victory over Lone Grove (Okla.) High.
And while Carter's most notable achievements came as a head coach in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he helped build dominant football and track programs, he said he has always considered himself a Marlowite. The Oklahoma resident has spent the past 29 years in the small town where he met his wife, Evelyn, whom he married just before leaving for a deployment in World War II.
"I couldn't imagine myself in any other place," Carter told the Review. "It's just a great place to be.
"It's just unbelievable that this has happened to me. I am amazed that people would make such a big deal. It was the biggest honor I have had in a long time."
He might be due an even bigger honor if it's proven that he is the nation's oldest high school coach. We can't prove he is, but if there is anyone older, then they deserve a serious medal. For our part, if the purveyors of Prep Rally are even alive at 88, we'll be more than happy.
- Bill Carter