By Lee Wardlaw
Inexperienced COVE SPRINGS – In 1966, he was the first Black trainer to combine a college in Florida. However, since his very first day as a physical instruction instructor at Clay Large as a bodily schooling instructor, Ron Riddle has done substantially a lot more.
In the course of the 37-year stint that the larger sized-than-daily life community determine at Clay and the sidelines of C.B. Bowles Stadium, Riddle has been pushed by a single overriding pressure: an ever-present and effective feeling of self-well worth.
“My self-worthy of was almost certainly the greatest issue for the reason that I gave it almost everything I experienced in coaching and training. I’ve really been blessed,” he said.
Throughout the onset of Riddle’s profession at Clay, occasions have been diverse, and segregation-similar tensions were being a actuality. Any freshly-hired personnel desired to make a excellent impression, but given that he was the 1st Black instructor in the state, Riddle particularly needed to execute.
“When I first obtained right here, I had to impress the school board, the administration, and the school,” he mentioned.
Riddle not only taught actual physical training but a number of sporting activities: boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ keep track of and industry, weightlifting (which authorized his university student-athletes to go on their coaching regiment to improve their expertise required for a probable a faculty scholarship) and of class, soccer.
“I did just about almost everything,” Riddle explained.
Riddle was component of a Blue Devils’ coaching staff members that received the condition championship in 1967. He even now dons the ring right now.
Riddle reported his greatest effects from his very long and tenured profession was the fingerprints he left on his college students.
“My biggest impression was on the students. You have to give it all in purchase to teach these little ones. I was considered a function product. If they check out you and believe in you and you can create a partnership with them, they will run as a result of a brick wall for you. That just takes place to be what I was blessed to do,” he explained.
Riddle’s effect transcended considerably further than his scholar-athletes.
The role model and area determine even went to feed the full community right before foodstuff banking companies existed in the county via a application he developed by using the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“I made use of to have a foodstuff software until eventually all of the (food financial institutions) opened. FCA made certain that all of the college students experienced anything for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Riddle explained.
The method was preferred. It unfold like wildfire.
“After that, we did 200 turkeys and hams for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A good deal of individuals ended up needy, and it was a large amount of do the job, but we designed guaranteed that everybody experienced something to try to eat,” Riddle said.
The longtime leader retired from soccer and other standard coaching obligations in 2003. Nevertheless, he continued coaching observe and area till 2020, finally retiring immediately after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I coached until eventually COVID came by. Then, I arrived household,” the offensive lineman-sized male mentioned although cracking his signature giggle.
Just before coming into the training and coaching occupation, Riddle preferred to perform specialist soccer.
“All of my daily life, I preferred to play football. God says that he will give you the magic formula wishes of my heart. Mine was to engage in pro football, but I got hurt, so I claimed, ‘I’m likely to phone it quits. I’m not taking an operation.’ So the Lord claimed, ‘I’ve received one thing else for you.’ If that didn’t happen, I would not have been this thriving, heading to these spots and carrying out these items. It means a ton,” he claimed.
Now, Riddle has achieved what he now is aware was additional gratifying: aiding his learners get a full-experience scholarship out of large university and undertaking no matter what it requires to achieve that intention.
Among numerous many others, two of people athletes were being Charles Clark, who earned a complete-ride soccer scholarship to the University of Mississippi, and Jennifer Charles, who gained a volleyball scholarship at Ga Southern.
“I took so quite a few young children to West Virginia Point out that all I had to do was contact them. I didn’t have to do everything just after they ended up (academically) approved. At that place, they knew that everybody that I sent was a very good kid,” Riddle stated.