Coach Joe Redmond steps down marking the end of an era
Coach Redmond’s football coaching career has spanned over 38 years on both the high school and collegiate level. His winning brand of football and ability to place players at the next level, including college and professional football, has earned him seven “Coach of the Year” honors.
By Charles Moseley
There’s an old saying which states, “All good things must come to an end in life.” Not only has the coaching career of Coach Joe Redmond been a good thing for the sport of high school and collegiate athletics, Coach Redmond has had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of student athletes across this country.
Coach Redmond announced that he would no longer coach high school football after spending the last 38 years coaching football at either the high school or collegiate level. His career coaching football officially began in 1973 as the first African American Offensive Coordinator at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, where he also served as an Academic Advisor.
Redmond originally hails from Nashville, Tenn., where he was a standout student athlete at Cameron High School. Redmond started as a pitcher on his high school’s baseball team and as a quarterback on its football team. His accomplishments in athletics earned him an opportunity to play football at nationally known Black College football powerhouse Grambling University in Grambling, Louisiana for legendary Coach Eddie Robinson. Unfortunately, his stay at Grambling was short lived and he returned home to Nashville where he would up attending Fisk University where he started in both baseball and football.
Coach Redmond completed his studies at Fisk, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health and Physical Education and later earning a Master of Science Degree in Health and Physical Education from Northern Illinois University.
In 1977, armed with a solid background in athletics and undergraduate and graduate degrees in Health and Physical Education, he began to pursue his passion as a coach in the sport he had grown to love-football as the first African American Offensive Coordinator in the school’s history, at Northern Illinois University. Over the next 38 years Coach Redmond established a sterling career in coaching on the high school and collegiate level including head football coaching stints at Texas Southern University, Central State University, Knoxville College and Maryland Eastern Shore.
He also held head coaching positions on the high school level at Miami Jackson, Dillard, Deerfield, and most recently Stranahan High where he announced his retirement on Monday of this week.
During Coach Redmond’s high school coaching career he has compiled multiple championships at the district and regional level with a coaching won-loss record of 97W-49L. He has placed some 250 student athletes at the collegiate level and in 2000 set a record at the national level while at Dillard when he helped 21 players earn college athletic scholarships.
Coach Redmond recently shared some of his thoughts during a recent interview with the Westside Gazette (WG) Newspaper.
WG: What has been the highlight of your career?
Redmond- “I guess the highlight of my career happened when we defeated Grambling University. At the end of the game I went over to shake Coach Robinson’s hand which was one of the highlights of my career. I recall playing Alabama State when I was a fresh-man, beating them 45-19 and throwing three touchdown passes. We beat them, they were a good football team and we were not supposed to win. In baseball in college my biggest moment was when we beat Grambling 1-0. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to go to Grambling. My coach worked it out so that I at-tend Grambling. I had a bus ticket which was pre-paid and I got on and we went on to Memphis and picked up what looked like half of Memphis. When we arrived on campus Coach Eddie Robinson greeted everybody as they got off the bus. There were guys getting off the bus, some of them 6’ 5” weighing over 300lbs. He looked up and said,” Who’s Redmond?” I said, “I am.” He said,” I’ve got water boys who are bigger than you.” I said,” I can go home.” He said, “Well go.” I called home, I was crying and she said get on the bus and come home. And I waited all these years to defeat them in baseball. We lined up against Grambling in what we called back then the “SWAC Bowl” and when we got ready to play them he was poised to win his 300th victory by beating us, winning another game and finishing at FAMU and that would give him his 300th victory. Well, he didn’t get it that night and when he came to the field, he shook my hand and I said, “Coach what goes a-round comes around. He said, “What do you mean?” I said,” Remember when you told me I was too small?” And he looked at me and put his arms around me with tears in his eyes. He said, “I made a mistake.” I said, “You didn’t make a mistake; you gave me an opportunity that I would have never had and that was to play you.”
WG: What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced during your coaching career?
Redmond-“ It’s kind of a bias- not only do I tell my team and coaches but I tell my wife I am not a prejudice person but I’m also a realist. I watch guys play on Friday and Saturday nights and their playing for a Caucasian guy and they bust their butts. And then they turn around and watch them play for an African American guy –they don’t give that same kind of effort. I don’t know what it is about it. I do know it does exist. I’m somewhat offended when people say to me, “Man you’ve got such good athletes.” No, we do a good job of coaching. I’ve prided myself in everything we’ve done not only to be the first but to be the best at it.”
WG: What have you enjoyed most about coaching young student-athletes?
Redmond-“I take a lot of pride in having molded their lives. I think coaching is like being a minister: if the flock is being taken care of and they follow you and they believe in you, when you talk the talk you have to walk the walk because if not they’ll see through you. And once you lose them, you’ll never get them back. And thank God we haven’t lost anybody when I’ve been coaching. We have our moments. You don’t have to like me but you will respect me. The biggest accomplishment I have to say is when we beat St. Thomas when I was at Deerfield. We beat them handily; I think it was about 54-12. And I have the utmost respect for Coach George Smith. That was probably the high-light.”
WG: You have built quite a reputation for building programs which have a good track record of getting student-athletes scholar-ships to attend college. Has that been a source of pride for you in that not only do you mold athletes but stress the importance of academics to your athletes?
Redmond- “Academics are paramount; that’s what has been most important to me. When I was in high school and college my coaches stressed that. When I was at Fisk I saw players get taken off of the bus because they didn’t have the academics that they needed to have. I remember when I was at Northern Illinois University and I went into inner city Chicago and this school had a kid who was one of the best that I had seen play and the coach said that the kid wasn’t going to graduate. And that offended me. I said that if I ever became a head football coach in college or high school that would never happen to me. Thank God we never lost anybody.
WG: If you were able to address all your former players in one room what would you say to them?
Redmond-“First, I would tell them that I loved them. Secondly, I would say how proud I am of each one and the fact that I thank them for allowing me to coach them and touch their lives. And it’s not just about us touching their lives- it’s about them touching our lives, too. A lot of times people say we don’t realize the impact that we have on them, but they don’t realize the impact they have on us. When I was coaching in Miami when we would lose a game, the kids would come home with me because there was no such thing as losing. They did everything they could to win legally. We didn’t lose very much. We tried to find something positive out of everything we do. I heard Steve Harvey say that for every tragedy that he came out of, he’s tried to bring something positive out of it, and that’s what I have always told our team. If we lose a game we’ve always tried to learn something from of it.”