Former Owensboro High School football coach Gerald Poynter passed away today after battling valiantly against an illness. Coach Poynter had two stints as head football coach at OHS from 1965-1976 and from 1988-1995. His best season culminated in a class 2A state championship in 1974 as OHS defeated Middlesboro 14-7 at Eastern Kentucky University. From 1973-1975, OHS won an impressive 28 consecutive games. Under Poynter’s guidance, Owensboro never had a losing season. His overall record of 152-68-3 gives him the most wins as head football coach in the storied history of OHS football.
Stats aside, Coach Poynter was a legend to me. As a young boy, like many others, I grew up watching OHS football. I recall going to Rash Stadium on Friday night’s and watching my hero’s play. The man that directed them was coach Poynter and to me, he may as well been Vince Lombardi. My first memory of directly dealing with coach Poynter was attending the OHS youth football camp as a 12 year old. I remember working on a drill and coach Poynter coming over to me to give me direct instruction. I almost couldn’t listen to what he was saying because I was in such a state of awe that coach Poynter was actually talking to me.
As I was going into my freshman year, I was lifting weights at OHS every day, and very eager to be apart of the OHS football program. At the end of the summer, before practice began, Coach Poynter asked me to come into the coaches office. Now, for anyone that has ever played football at OHS, the coaches offices can be quite the intimidating place. There is an open window looking out across the locker room (weights were there back then as well) and you felt as though every action, every movement, every thought was being evaluated. As I entered the coach’s office, Coach Poynter asked me to have a seat. He looked directly into my eyes, and told me that he had a serious question for me. Coach Poynter said he’d been watching me all summer, and thought I had what it took to be a member of the varsity football team, and to have a locker in the varsity locker room. Keep in mind, freshmen didn’t typically dress varsity back in those days, so as you could imagine, I was totally freaking out on the inside. He asked me, if I was ready to accept that kind of responsibility, and I looked Coach Poynter right in the eye and said “Yes Sir”. He gave me my locker and I was on my way. I only got to play one season for Coach Poynter as he retired at the end of my freshman season in 1995. That one year with the legend, still has a positive influence on my life.
There are so many more stories, from hundreds of players, from multiple decades that coach Poynter influenced. The mark he left on the OHS football program is still felt today, as the field house has since been renamed “Gerald Poynter Fieldhouse”. Coach Joe Prince helped spearhead that renaming and current coach Jay Fallin, has talked openly about coach Poynter and his mark on Owensboro football. In today’s age of social media, people make negative remarks about coaches all the time. But in my lifetime, I have never heard one negative remark about the man that Coach Gerald Poynter was. The influence he had on the lives of the players is probably the biggest reason for that. Say anything bad about Coach Poynter and that’s your choice. But say it to one of his former players, and well, that’s on you.
There is no doubt that Coach Poynter will be missed. Prayers go from HRN to his family, friends, and countless former players. Although Gerald Poynter the man is gone, his memory remains, and OHS football will continue to thrive because of the standard that Coach Poynter set.
From this Red Devil, thank you so much Coach Poynter and Rest in Peace.