Coach Norm Khoury
"Bear" Bryant, not Norm Khoury (but close)
I had a football coach in High School, Mr. Khoury. He was the back coach, not my coach. I was a lineman. Still Mr. Khoury had an effect on every team member.
Almost all high school coaches were (are) hard asses. Mr. Khoury was the hard ass of all hard asses. He was a large man, not huge, but large. He was built like a refrigerator. He was mean. Well he looked mean, he talked mean and he acted mean. He never did anything mean. Mr. Khoury had a drill sergeant’s attitude and he commanded instant respect. Coach Khoury played in college for Bear Bryant at Alabama; at least that is what we were told. He coached as if he were the Bear himself.
Mr. Khoury looked crazy. He was either a murderous psychopath or a very good actor. I suspect he was the latter, but no one ever chose to push his buttons and find out.
There was never a discipline problem on our football team. The head coach, Gary Kehler was the most successful high school coach in New Jersey. He held a record of 40 straight wins. If anyone even thought to challenge Mr. Kehler’s system one look at couch Khoury would stifle the thought.
Mr. Khoury demanded respect at all times. Someone once called him by his first name. To this day that person is still doing push-ups. The name Norm was never even whispered in his presence again.
I remember Coach Khoury from his teaching more than his coaching. He was a physiography teacher; “Rocks 101” to his pupils. Most of Mr. Khoury’s students took his course because they could never pass Chemistry or Physics and they needed at least one science course to graduate. His students were not the brightest. They were not the best behaved. If you peered into Mr. Khoury’s class, only the clock would tell you if it was an actual class or if it was detention.
I was in Mr. Khoury’s “Rocks” class.
What I remember the most about this class was the pre-bell ruckus. Before the bell the class resembled “Welcome Back Kotter.” People were talking, screaming, and throwing stuff. Before the bell the classroom was a zoo.
One minute before the bell signaled the start of class, Mr. Khoury entered the room. He walked to the podium and gripped it with his massive hands. Mr. Khoury looked over the entire room of misfits and trouble makers, kids who were regular visitors to “The Office.” His eyes bulged, his eyebrow (yes, singular) rose and just before the bell would ring he declared loudly and firmly in a staccato monotone,
The class always fell silent. This room full of problem kids, kids looking to get in trouble as they were seeking any attention even negative attention, became angelic in Mr. Khoury’s presence.
I don’t remember very much about “Rocks,” but every once in a while, even today, when my unfiltered mind starts to say too much and my mouth begins to lead me into trouble I hear a distant voice,
Even today, that old football coach keeps me out of trouble.
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