Tuesday, December 7, 2010

By George

George Marinkov, Methacton High School's iconic football coach and Russian History teacher for almost forty years, was honored at a dinner November 23 during which he and several other area sports luminaries were inducted into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame. (http://www.mcchof.com/mcchof_banquet.html) Several tables of past players and current colleagues (and SEVEN tables of officials!) were present amongst the 500+ attendees to support "Coach" and celebrate this occasion.

I decided to attend the dinner on behalf of my deceased husband Wesley, who played for George from 1978-1980 and enjoyed every minute of Warrior football, George style. He wouldn't have missed this dinner and seeing Coach again for the world. It was a wonderful event and I had the opportunity to connect with some students and players from 'my' era as well as meet ones who came afterward - all of whom were absolutely wonderful, stellar people.

Also, I had Mr. Marinkov for Russian History in my senior year and his no-nonsense, call-it-as-you-see-it style quickly made him my favorite teacher. You always knew where you stood with George - good, bad or ugly. It's a style I've tried to emulate ever since. No muss, no fuss, no BS.

When it was Marinkov's turn to speak, his remarks and delivery were classic George - minus the ever-present cigar - and it was obvious he was the favorite and most animated speaker of the evening. He brought down the house with his funny recollections of particular players and opposing coaches, relayed in his typical blunt, machine-gun, take-no-prisoners style. For a guy with, shall we say, small stature, he has such a huge presence and personality...you always knew he meant business, and you sure didn't want to mess with him. Most of all, he knew how to lead without being forceful. He knew how to make you want to follow him.  He's one of the reasons my family has continued to attend Methacton football games regularly, even to this day.

(above, he was speaking about how he doesn't 'do' technology like cellphones, and how, even though he isn't sure he deserves this honor, he'll take it anyway...!)

Perhaps his greatest trait, though, is that he can also poke fun at himself. During his remarks, I and others were literally wiping tears of laughter away. Alluding to the perception that his players got away with murder, George quipped,"Of course, the football players all got A's in my class. If you got a C, you had to have been a real jerk". The reality was, George made his class so interesting, so riveting, you couldn't help but do well.

Marinkov was replaced as football coach (rather unceremoniously, some believe), in 2007 when the school administration decided to go in another direction with a new football coach. It was a decision that was very devisive among the players, students and parents, generating a 'bring back George' movement. That experiment has been abandoned and as of this season, Coach is now back on the sidelines as an advisor to his successor, Paul Lepre, a former student. Somehow, to me, anyway, much is right in the Universe again.

Ironically, my son has had Coach as a substitute for a class here and there at the high school, and he, too, adores him and appreciates his style.

I ran into Mr. Marinkov at the high school one day a couple months ago when I was dropping off my son's working papers. He happened to come into the office while I was there. He walked over to me, knowing we knew each other somehow, but he couldn't recall my name (hey, it's only been 30 years!). We reconnected, and I told him how good it was to see him back on the gridiron, how much my husband had loved playing for him, and we talked about how well the team had been doing this year. He said "that's because the guys are being treated like the young men that they are".  Typical George...giving away the credit to the new head coach. However, football-wise, to me, things at Methacton look a lot like they did in 1980. And that's a good thing.

Any guy who can make a dry subject like Russian History interesting and the most looked-forward-to class of the day, AND coach winning teams, is a special person in my book. And I have to think that Coach could not have imagined he'd have made as big an impact on people off the field as on. Congratulations again, George. It's been our pleasure.

See more comments from George here:


Anonymous said...

George is an ego maniac. Trust me it was never about the kids, it was all about winning. He let LOTS of things slide both on and off the field. He wanted to win at any cost. It wasnt about building young men, it was about his future, his records, his image. Yes i played for him.

Sully said...

Anomymous it sounds like you got to sit the bench for 4 years, get over it George is a great person

Anonymous said...

Actually...I did not ride the pine. In fact, I was a starter. Point is, George allowed things that should never have been. He turned a blind eye to many things...things that are simply wrong. He cared more about winning games, then building young men. Even though I played for him and was a starter, I always felt he treated the lesser kids different. He was far from a 'fair' coach. It was always a popularity contest with George. If you weren't in with the 'cool crowd' you simply did not play or get the same respect. Likewise, if you were popular and on the inside...you were treated like gold, started, and could get away with murder both on and OFF the field. George preached a good game, but to those in the know, know what i'm talking about. George made up the rules as he went along. George was and is an ego maniac. I don't say any of this out of spite, its simply the truth. Anyone who tries to argue with any of the comments above is simply blind. I say these things as an adult looking back at how things were with coach. Being an adult now with the blinders off, I realize what he was all about. The blogger is right...coach had a big personality...and one in which ruled by fear. People looked up to him due to his college accomplishments and his legendary status at the school. Coach new he could do anything he wanted and for many years he did. For years, parents of players/students were sick of George's ways. For years, many people wanted him gone. Finally, that crowd spoke loud enough and it was for the best.

Jack Beatrice said...

The only thing Anonymous played with is himself...apparently way too much.