Living legend Robert Alton Green inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame
Breaking records has always been a way of life for Robert A. “Pompey” Green. He equaled a world record in the 100 yard- dash as an Army private during a track meet in San Antonio, Texas in 1954.
By Charles Moseley
For those of us who happen to be part of the “Baby Boomer Generation,” there are certain names that have special significance. Names such as Jesse Owens, Joe Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Bob Hayes and Jackie Robinson need no clarification. Although the name Robert Alton Green may not carry the same notoriety as those aforementioned, his lifelong contributions in athletics warrant honor and acclaim.
During his lifelong involvement in athletics, which has spanned more than half a century, Green not only distinguished himself as a world class athlete but also made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of student-athletes.
This Sunday, April 28, 2013, Coach Robert A. Green will be inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame (FHHSAA). The induction ceremony is scheduled at the Hilton University of Florida in Gainesville. This event marks the fifth time that Green has received Hall of Fame recognition.
Green also has been inducted into The National Black High School Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Ga.; Allen University’s Athletic Hall of Fame in Columbia, S.C.; and the Dunbar High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame in Fort Myers, Fla. where his high school football jersey was retired. Additionally in his home town of Fort Myers, Green joined former professional National League Football players Deion Sanders (Dallas Cowboys), Jevon Kearse (Tam-pa Bay Buccaneers), and Earnest Graham (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), as inductees into the Lee County Athletic Hall of Fame.
Green’s distinguished athletic career began in the late 1940’s where he became a standout running back on the Dunbar High School Football team. This led to him receiving a full athletic scholarship to Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina where Green quickly caught the eye of coaches who noticed his blazing speed. Ironically, Green never ran track before in high school because Dunbar High did not have a track team.
Green began running track at Allen University where he set a number of records as a sprinter competing in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). Green also competed in the Penn Relays, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was invited to run in the U. S. Olympic Trials in California but unfortunately was not able to receive the financial assistance necessary for him to travel there.
After college graduation Green joined the United States Army where he continued his football and track career. Amazingly Green set a world record by completing the 100 yard dash in 9.3 seconds which was not officially recognized because it was deemed to have been wind aided. However, Green’s athletic accomplishments did not escape the eye of pro football scouts including those from the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburg Steelers, Chicago Bears, and the world champion Cleveland Browns. Green opted to try out for the Cleveland Browns under former National Football League Hall of Fame Coach Paul Brown.
After a brief stint with the Browns in 1958 he began pursuing a career in education. For the next 35 years Green served as a teacher, coach, administrator and athletic director at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Under Green’s tenure as track coach and athletic director the Dillard High School Panthers captured multiple state championships in virtually every major sport including football and basket-ball.
Coach Green will be 85 years young next month. He has spent the past 56 years pouring into the lives of student-athletes at Dillard High and throughout Broward County. Coach Green’s passion as a supporter of Dillard High led to his formation of the Panther’s 100 Club, Inc., an organization whose sole purpose is to provide financial support to the athletic and academic programs at the school while enriching the lives of its students.
Although Green retired from working in the Broward County Public School System in 1993, he continues to work tirelessly to help student-athletes achieve their goals through higher education. Green has been a role model for students and leading a example of how they also can achieve through athletics and academics. Green has accompanied student athletes on trips throughout the State of Florida as well as throughout the nation including Las Vegas, Nevada, Chicago, Illinois, St. Louis, Missouri, Anchorage, Alaska, and Los Angeles, California.
Most recently Coach Green, along with Coach Johnny Alexander, Sgt. William Harris and other Dillard supporters, traveled with Dillard’s four-time State Championship Girls Basketball team, under the leadership of Coach Marcia Pinder, to compete in Bethesda, Maryland. The team competed in the National High School Invitational.
Coach Green and his wife Pauline have been married since 1962. The couple celebrated their Golden Anniversary last year and are the parents of two daughters Avis and Corlis. Mrs. Green offered up the following keys to maintaining a happy marriage.
“We’ve always shared a mutual love and respect for one another and continued to put God first in our lives. We also made an agreement a long time ago to never go to bed angry with one another.”
Coach Green agreed to share some of the key moments with The Westside Gazette Newspaper during a face to face interview.
Westside Gazette (WG): What lessons have you learned in life over the years as a competitor or as you coached other athletes?
Coach Green: “I’ve learned that you get out of something what you put into it. And I’ve always tried to put the best that I had whether it was participating in athletics, whether it was coaching or teaching whatever task that I had to do I wanted to make sure I gave it everything I had.”
W.G.: What have been your proudest moments during your athletic career during high school, college, and beyond?
Coach Green: “My proudest moment in high school I believe was when I received a scholarship offer to attend college. I had three offers, one to Howard University, one to North Carolina Central, and one to Allen University. At Howard and I’m going back to 1949, they offered a $500 dollar scholarship and North Carolina offered a work scholarship. But Allen University said that we would get a full scholarship if we made one of the first three teams I along with two other players had confidence that we would make one of three teams, most likely the first team which we did. I had two special moments which stand out in my mind collegiately: I had an opportunity to run in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia and then after that with my success in track and field I had an invitation to attend the 1952 U. S. Olympic Trials in California. I was never able to make it out there because I didn’t have the finances and at that time I didn’t have a sponsor so I didn’t make it, but I feel as though I was running as good as anyone in the country at the time. And I think there was a strong possibility that I could have made the ’52 Olympics.”
W.G.: You ran a world record time of 9.3 seconds in the 100-yard- dash. Is that something that you dreamed about or set out to do?
Coach Green: “This may surprise you but I never ran track in high school because we were a two- sport school. We only had football and basketball. When I got to Allen University the coach saw that I was pretty fast so he put me on the track team. Out of the four years there, I won the SIAC Championship two out of the four years. This is when I began to get into track and really put some time into it. I reached my peek after college in San Antonio, Texas. I equaled the world record for the 100- yard- dash at that time which was 9.3 seconds. I didn’t get the world record because it was little bit wind aided. I didn’t get the recognition for it but I did tie the world record. There were several highlights during my coaching career. Being able to change young men’s lives; let me give you an example. There was a young man who was on my track team who was the first one in his family to even finish high school. And as a result of track he got a scholarship to attend Southern University. And right now that man is married, has a family, and is a successful businessman. I felt I had a lot to do with this young man’s development and even him having an interest in going to college. There was another incident with another young man who was doing nothing just sitting in the gym. I got him out and involved in track, then he got involved in basketball. He went off to college on a full basketball scholarship. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and wound up catching a touchdown in the Super Bowl.”
W.G.: Why do you think athletics has played such a significant role in the development of the lives of young African American student-athletes?
Coach Green: “Let me give you an example. Last week I went out to Dillard. The coach wanted me to talk to the football players while they were in the weight room. So I asked a question. I said, “How many of you are going to college? All their hands went up. The next question was, “How many of you have the finances to go? No hands went up. That’s when I said you’re here; if you have the ability you can make it pay off for you. Don’t waste your time just going through the motions. If you’re going to do it give it 100 percent.”