Coach’s gift to students beyond sports
Leroy Breedlove taught and coached in Orange from 1964 to 1998, guiding the city’s youth to stardom on and off the field. He died last Friday at 86.
Cutline w/ wife (if you don’t crop her):
Leroy Breedlove, 86, was honored for a lifetime of service as a teacher and coach when the football field at West Orange-Stark was named for him last September. His wife Barbara is at right in photo.
By Dave Rogers
For The Record
Leroy Breedlove, the man for whom the playing field at West Orange-Stark’s Dan R. Hooks Stadium was named last fall, passed away last Friday at 86.
“I’m telling you that guy was an icon,” Mark Foreman, a former WO-S football assistant, said. “He was an icon in the community, and at the junior high.”
Breedlove, a former track and basketball standout at Texas Southern University, taught and coached in Orange from 1964 to 1998.
He spent most of that time at M.B. North, which was a high school when he came to the community, and later a junior high/middle school.
“He liked to take those young ones and work with them,” said Dan Hooks, head football coach at WO-S from 1981-1999 and coach of back-to-back state champions in 1986-87.
“He did a good job. All of those players that won state came up through his program.”
Breedlove also helped out by coaching spring sports at WO-S.
“The kids loved him,” Foreman said. “He was real, real strong on discipline, but the kids knew he cared about them.”
It was more than Xs and Os from Breedlove.
“I said it on my Facebook page: ‘He was a coach who acted like a coach AND a dad. That was just the perfect combination that kids needed,’” Raymona Papilion said.
“That meant he cared first about your education, then helped you blossom into a good athlete.”
Papilion said she was probably the only player to go four years with Breedlove as her coach for both high school basketball and track at WO-S. And he made sure she knew how to get through all the paperwork when she enrolled at Louisiana Tech on a track scholarship.
Papilion lives in Houston now and works in technical support for an alarm company.
“It was a blessing to have him come into my life. Really it was,” she said.
A native of Muskogee, Oklahoma, Breedlove taught school for 44 years in all. But mostly he motivated youngsters.
Foreman remembered Tuesday that Kevin Smith, who was a two-time state champion for WO-S and a two-time Southwest Conference champion at Texas A&M, offered thanks to Breedlove when the Dallas Cowboys chose him in the first round of the NFL in 1992.
And then Smith won three Super Bowls with Dallas.
In Orange schools, Breedlove established his home. His assignments included football, basketball, and track, as well as mathematics in his early years.
He taught at not only M.B. North High School and Middle School, but also at Stark High School, West Orange-Stark Intermediate, Middle and High School campuses.
Breedlove and his wife Mary have been married for 52 years. Together, they have seven children, 16 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.
In retirement, he volunteered in local summer track and field recreation programs and has especially enjoyed
working with local youth. Additionally, he has assisted his granddaughter to national level qualification and placement in track and field events.