Earl Washington, who coached Broward County high school basketball teams for more than 40 years, died Monday.
“He meant just as much to the community as he did to the school,” Hollywood Hills athletic director Kevin Perry said. “He was like a father to so many guys.”
Washington, who kept his exact age hidden from even those close to him, was believed to be in his 90s. He coached at the segregated Attucks High in Hollywood, which later became Attucks Middle School, from 1952-67. At Attucks, Washington won seven district titles and twice his teams were state runner-ups, according to Washington’s recollection in a 1992 Sun Sentinel article.
In 1969, he was named Hollywood Hills’ boys basketball coach. He stayed in that position until 1996.
“He’s always been there for you,” said Hollywood Hills alumnus Gerald Bain, who played for Washington before graduating in 1974. “Even when I went to college, he came up with me, he made sure everything [was] good. He always did that. When I came home, I’d go by to see him and we’d sit and talk all the time.”
Bain remembered how Washington was always close to his players and would encourage them in all aspects of life.
“He always wanted you to be the best that you could be: in the classroom, on the court, on the football field, anything else,” Bain said. “He always supported you. Not just me. A lot of the guys — he’s always been there. Among us, we always called him, ‘Daddy’ ... because he was a father figure to all of us.”
Washington’s teams at Hollywood Hills weren’t always successful. He had a known career record of 341-301 and made the playoffs three times. Washington never won a state championship.
But winning on the court wasn’t the most important thing.
“There’s a lot of coaches that get the recognition [when] they win state titles, but they don’t have a lasting relationship with players,” Bain said. “What I mean by that is this: After this game is over and the season’s over, they go separate ways. Coach doesn’t keep up with them, they don’t check on them, that kind of thing. Coach Washington did that. You became part of his family.”