ON PIRATE SPORTS
From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
By Brian Bailey
Coach's impact will endure
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
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
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
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.
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02/23/2007 01:33:53 AM