Wests share love of football

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 5, 2004

As he watches his son play football for the Selma High School Saints, Rod West Sr. takes pride in seeing who the young man has become.

Coaching his boy growing up, West was given the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with Rod West Jr., a defensive back for Selma High.

West Sr. coached his son and many of his current Selma High teammates – including Donald Steele, Robert Childers and Cajun Pritchett – as 8-year-old members of the 49ers in the Selma Parks and Recreation Department’s Youth Football League. He also coached current Central Christian Academy quarterback Tee Woods at the Brown YMCA.

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The 49ers went unbeaten for two seasons, winning back-to-back league titles.

Since that time, West went on to become the head football coach at R.C. Hatch High School. Life wasn’t perfect with the Bobcats, the teams failed to win a game.

During his time at R.C. Hatch, however, West missed his time making an impression with the youngsters he coached.

“The main thing that makes me feel good,” West said, “is when the kids come back and tell me they appreciate the job I did and the time I spent with them.”

His time away from those youngsters was short. After being approached by Selma Parks and Recreation Department Supervisor of Officials Terry Jackson, West returned to the city’s Youth Football League after the 2001 prep season as head coach of the Broncos.

“Terry told me there were teams in the league that couldn’t score a touchdown,” West said. “The Broncos were one of the teams, so I decided to give it a try.”

Jackson called West one of the best judges of talent he’s seen.

“He knows the kids,” Jackson said. “He can look at a kid and tell whether or not they’re an athlete.

“If coach West could pick his own players,” Jackson continued, “he would pick all the best kids. Nobody else would win a game.”

That nearly has come to fruition. After finishing second in the league the past two years, the Broncos are currently 4-1 and riding high in first place.

“I don’t have to convince the boys to come out to play football here,” West said. “And the parents know I know how to win. They know I’m the type of coach who has practices every day. They know I’m a strong disciplinarian.”

West Sr. never had the opportunity to play college football. As a sophomore at Selma High in 1978, West went out as a defensive back for the Saints. However, his playing career was a brief one. He was forced to quit after developing tendonitis in his right shoulder.

After graduating from Selma High, West was a walk-on for the Florida A&M University football team, where he was a teammate of former New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals speedster Vince Coleman, the FAMU placekicker/punter.

“We had a very close-knit team,” West said. “That was a very different experience for me. I just wanted to get out of Alabama and go find myself.”

West hopes to have that same impact on the lives of local youngsters in the coming years.

“Seeing young kids improve over eight weeks really makes me feel good,” he said. “What I have to give back to the community makes me feel good. I just want to be a father figure and a role model for these kids.”