Papa Blair

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2007

Coaching, teaching defines quarter century of Mike Blair’s life

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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Life has taken some unexpected, but pleasant twists for Mike Blair.

It’s not as if he’s gone into many things kicking and screaming, but he’ll tell you he tries to make the best of everything.

For the past 25 years, the Ashford native has been as much a part of Maplesville High School as the big &8216;M’ that’s attached to the school’s signature red color.

When the subject of Red Devil baseball comes up, back-to-back state championships, gritty players and the team’s eccentric coach immediately come to mind.

Blair was hired on April Fool’s Day 1982 &045; a fact he somehow saw as ironic &045; as an assistant football coach and to coach basketball.

As is the case with many 1A schools, however, Blair was asked to step out of his comfort zone and fill in where there was a need.

It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to him. He met his wife, Becky, at Maplesville. She posted a quote in Maplesville’s dugout: &8220;If you can dream it, you can make it happen.&8221;

Blair guided the baseball team to an 11-4 record his first year and by his count has hundreds more since. That included titles in 1996 and 1997, players that set records and an equally impressive run in football.

Blair said one of the things he is proudest of is he has kept his family involved all the way through.

It’s a rare sight to see him around the stadium without his wife and son, Cody.

Blair’s hardest season was coaching his son, knowing it would be the last time he would ever see him play.

Not surprisingly, one of his most fulfilling seasons also involved his son.

Blair gave up the job in May and turned the team over to Kevin Harrison, a former player who still holds AHSAA stolen base records.

Blair, the assistant principal at the school for the past 17 years, expected to end his career in Maplesville until another bend in the road presented itself.

He is beginning his first year as principal of Martin Middle School.