Jack Coleman
AHS  1965 -1969

July 15, 1933 - February 1, 2004

He graduated from Foreman High School and attended Southern State College - now Southern Arkansas University.  Served in the Army, and returned and graduated from SSC.  He had a choice of playing ball for the San Francisco 49’s for $ 1,800 a year (and they would find him an “off season” job, or accepting a coaching position in Marianna, AR for $ 2,300…so there he went.

 Then Sparkman, AR…Fouke, AR…Texarkana, AR at Jefferson Avenue for 3 or 4 years and then Arkansas High for 1 year -  I believe as defensive coordinator before leaving to be Head Coach at Hooks (Lynn Nix years was when he was at JA and Arkansas High)

 Then he coached at the following…Hooks - 9 years…Atlanta - 6 years…Ashdown - from 1982 till he became assistant sup. and retired about 96 - only to return for a few more years to teach Algebra for Ashdown because the shortage of certified math teachers for 2 periods a day until his health became so bad he couldn’t do it anymore the way he wanted to (He would come home, and with only 60% of the heart working - he would be exhausted)

 Fought and beat cancer (lost a kidney) while in Hooks in 1971-72

 ***Coached Billy Simms who went on to win Heisman Trophy in 1978 while in Hooks

And then Phillip Epps while in Atlanta - - Phil went to TCU and set a still standing kick off return record when it was the Southern Conference and then played 6 years with Green Bay Packers as   # 86 for 6 years and was the fastest man in the NFL at the time.

Daughter - Belinda Coleman (Kopplin)

Coaching: Coleman had it down

Sports Director - Texarkana Gazette

I still remember the Saturday morning phone call in September 1973.

Jack Coleman was on the other end of the line and he was spittin' nails. The Hooks football coach wasn't at all pleased that sportswriter Howard Roden had called his (Coleman's) decision to hold Billy Sims out of the starting lineup the night before in the Hornets' loss to Liberty-Eylau a gamble.

"It wasn't a gamble," Coleman barked. "I knew what I was doing."

More than 30 years later I'm sure those are not exact quotes, but they describe the gist of the conversation. Coleman's benching of his future Heisman Trophy winner was not a calculated risk, but a disciplinary move because Sims had broken curfew the night before.

By the time Sims did get into the game-he finished with 135 yards on 20 carries-the game was already lost. But more importantly, Coleman had proved a point to his star running back and the rest of his team.

No player was bigger than the game in the eyes of Coleman, who died last Sunday at age 70 after battling a lengthy illness. And no matter how talented a player was-Sims was undoubtedly one of the top five running backs to ever play in Texas-he received no special treatment from Coleman.

"Coach Coleman was extremely fair," said Gary Strickland, a defensive lineman at Hooks, where Coleman coached from 1971 to 1977. "I remember when Billy Sims was a sophomore he was giving coach some problems about the way the offense was being run and he told Billy either to suck it up and do it his way or go to the house. The rest of us were scared to death he was going to kick Billy off the team."

Sims was among several former players from Hooks, Atlanta and Ashdown who gave testimonials at Coleman's funeral services on Thursday.

"Billy said he owed everything he's ever done to Jack Coleman," Strickland said.

If there was a central theme to all the tributes, it was that Coleman never changed his style during his coaching career.

"From all the stories we heard, it didn't matter whether Jack was in Hooks, Atlanta or Ashdown, they were all about the same," said Brent Ramage, the center on Hooks' 1973 state finalist team. "He was just as mean and ornery in one place as another. But that was just his way of giving love to his boys. It wasn't until after the fact that you realized that."

Ramage said Coleman showed no favorites.

"He treated everybody equally severe," he said. "It didn't matter who you were or what color you were, you were treated the same. You really didn't think of him as a special person when you played for him, but he showed his love through his discipline and shaping the lives of boys that otherwise never would have had anything. Several of the testimonials at the funeral came from guys who said they viewed Jack and Lynn Coleman as their mom and dad."

John Murphy, who played defensive end and tight end for Coleman in 1976-77 at Hooks, said the coach had no problem getting his message across.

"Coach wouldn't ridicule you when you did something not quite so intelligent," he said, "but he might look at you with that stoic stare and say 'Good gosh-amighty.' And if you were the one those sayings were directed to, you knew, and I mean really knew, that he meant business. The world today needs a few more of coach to go around."

But Strickland said Coleman would have difficulty coaching in today's society.

"He wouldn't put up with parents getting involved and talking to him about playing their child," he said. "It didn't matter whether you were white, black, red or yellow or if your father was on the school board. He always put the best eleven players on the field."

But only if those 11 lived up to the standards of Coleman, who wore the "flat-top" style of haircut throughout his coaching career, perhaps a carryover from his military days.

"You had to be clean-shaven and your hair had to be cut short," Ramage said. "If he could grab your hair, then it was too long. And, if it was, you weren't going to play."

The awe Ramage felt toward Coleman would later turn into respect after he realized what he had learned during his association with the coach.

"We sincerely believed where he spit, the grass would not grow," Ramage said. "And it wasn't until you had gone through school and aged a bit that you realized what he did for you.

"His father image, his support image, his coach image-he wore many hats for his boys. And you weren't just any boy, you were his boy and when you took a trip with the team you were expected to act in a certain way. Coach Coleman was all about people."

Jack Coleman was "old school" and a fierce competitor. He was a winner, but as most of his former players realized later in life, that wasn't what he was all about.

I learned that fact long ago during that Saturday morning phone call. It was probably the only cross words we had during our working relationship, which lasted most of three decades.

We've lost one of the good ones. Jack Coleman will be missed.

Back to "Coaches"
Back to "Athletics"
Back to "Memorials"