Blackburn: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Lillie Abramowicz, Writer

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Kevin Blackburn is well known around Waterford for his passion for sports and compassion for students he comes across every single day. Originally raised in the town, Blackburn grew up in Waterford Public Schools. He played football, baseball, and track during his high school career. Even the students that seem to have the tightest relationship with him may not know his past, as well as the stories and experiences he’s willing to share.

Graduating from Waterford High School in 1981, Blackburn remembers how simplistic being a teenager in the 80’s really was: “Back in my day, there were no cell phones,” he says, “we communicated more because we didn’t have social media”. The forms of communication weren’t ancient… In fact, they were as simple as they could be– home phones and simple cell phones, mainly used to call and text. So when you tell a parent about your whereabouts, they will know exactly where you’ll be. Life was a lot simpler without the influence of social media, as it makes up a majority of society in today’s age. In retrospect to the past, “[My friends and I] were always together,” he says, “even if it rained, we would play ping pong. That’s something we did a lot.” Whether it be rain or shine, the kids were always doing something, they just had to be home in time for dinner; it was as simple as that.

 

After high school, Blackburn initially enrolled in South Carolina State University, majoring in psychology and human relations and minoring in philosophy. He also continued playing football and track there, but stopped football due certain circumstances on the team. Fourteen players out of the twenty-two who tried out for the college team had gotten drafted to play with the team, “I was way out of my league.” he says. Blackburn then travelled to Santa Monica Junior College to pursue more of his track career, after making the decision to discontinue his football career. He loved the California atmosphere. He then travelled to Manhattan where he graduated from PACE University in 1990, nine years after graduating high school. Revealing to why he made the sudden switch, “My mother was a singer in Manhattan,” he says “I figured that sports were done in my life so I [decided] that I should get my education”. He decided it was time to put academics first.

 

Post college, Blackburn became a correctional counselor. Working in a unit of approximately 96 inmates, he did payroll, classifications, disciplines, and more. Blackburn recounts that he misses working there, but stopped when he was eligible for retirement, which also led him to come back to work in his hometown.

 

After hearing about openings at the school, Blackburn decided to take the job back at his old high school to work as a security guard. Working in the school now for six years, he also took the position to coach football and track. “Coaching doesn’t have to do with the actual sport,” he says, “it’s about how you treat the kids on a daily basis and how to speak to them. You learn by teaching.” Of course, when being a coach it’s important to treat the athletes with respect as you would expect the same from the athletes.

 

Blackburn is best known for the optimism that he displays towards his athletes, as well as the other students he interacts with throughout the school. When reflecting on where his love comes from, he says “My mother [inspires me the most]. She always had infinite love for me that I can now carry throughout my life.” Even with coaching, Blackburn makes it known that it’s crucial to love the person who is underneath the athlete, no matter who it is.

 

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