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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
By Brian Bailey

Coach's impact will endure

Other Stories on Keith LeClair's Passing
Al Myatt: LeClair leaves sweeping legacy

Brian Bailey: Coach's impact will endure
Woody Peele: A man worth remembering


You knew the news was coming at some point. Still, word that former East Carolina baseball coach Keith LeClair had lost his battle with ALS was tough to take.

The Pirate coach was so much to so many people. His family, his former players, his friends, they will all gather later this week to say goodbye.

I often try to put myself in Coach LeClair’s shoes. I wonder how I would have handled such a devastating disease. I can only hope that I would have showed a fraction of the bravery that LeClair displayed over the last several years.

When LeClair stopped coaching, he started a new life as sort of an Internet counselor. I can’t tell you how many people LeClair had on his mailing list. There must have been a couple of hundred.

He would spend much of his day on a keyboard, and then later with a retinal scanner, sending out devotionals and baseball tips almost on a daily basis.

We all go through ups and downs in our lives. I remember sending Coach LeClair an e-mail about something going on in my life. I then thought about it. Here I was, whining about some of my bad luck to a guy with a death sentence.

It put everything in perspective.

LeClair resigned from coaching, but he never stopped coaching.

“He was always a coach,” said Chuck Young, who spoke for the LeClair family on Monday afternoon. “He coached up the kind of funeral that he wanted. I don’t know how I’m going to get everything done, but that’s what Coach wanted.”

The funeral service will be held Friday at 2:00 p.m. at Oakmont Baptist Church. The family will receive friends Thursday evening between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. at Wilkerson and Sons Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the ALS Foundation, SPORTworks Ministry and The Pirate Club.

There are also plans to hold a memorial service at Clark-LeClair Stadium on Friday afternoon, but details were still being worked out late this afternoon.

I suspect that the LeClair family would like this to be more about a week of celebrating the life of the coach rather then mourning his loss.

Dozens of his former players will return to town this week. Many of these players followed LeClair into the coaching ranks. To a man they all give credit to LeClair.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of LeClair's protégés later this week. I certainly wish that it was under better circumstances, but again, this should be a chance to celebrate the life of a true East Carolina hero.

LeClair leaves us with another hero that shares his name. I’ve written this before, but Lynn LeClair is simply an angel on earth.

What a story she could tell. Hopefully, the LeClairs will be able to tell that story. I know that Keith really wanted to publish his thoughts and devotionals. I believe that’s a goal that Lynn will pursue as she looks for a lasting tribute to the coach.

I was fortunate enough to be on Coach LeClair’s e-mail list, and I truly enjoyed his devotions. They always had a baseball theme, and they certainly showed everyone that his faith was stronger then anything.

A couple of years ago I was doing an update story on Coach LeClair. Lynn told me that she was once asked if she ever just go mad at God.

I’ll never forget her answer: “No, not really, because God is all we really have right now.”

Keith LeClair is gone, but the smile, the enthusiasm, the love for the game and for his fellow man, will certainly never be forgotten.

Send an e-mail message to Brian Bailey.

Click here to dig into Brian Bailey's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 01:33:53 AM


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