Students fondly knew him as Coach.
He called himself a “coach-counselor.”
Yoshio Yosh Yamada spent nearly 40 years teaching driver’s education and coaching the football team at Englewood High School in Chicago’s South Side.
He died last month in Sacramento, CA at the age of 94 after battling both heart failure and kidney disease, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
30 years after his retirement in 1991, many of those he taught and coached are recalling the impact he had on their lives.
“He was in one of the internment camps during the war, so he understood the oppression of Black people,” said Charles Hudson, 73, who graduated in 1967 from Englewood and played guard on the football team. “That was like being in prison. I think he just felt he had to help underprivileged people like Black people.”
Yamada lost track of how much money he personally spent on his players to buy them needed equipment, meals and for even trips to visit college campuses.
“I know that athletics help to keep many boys in school that would otherwise drop out,” he said. “If I see a boy on the verge of quitting, I’ll give him more responsibility. . .make him feel he’s needed,” he said in an interview with the Sun-Times.
Born in Oakland, Ca, he lived there until the government imprisoned him and his family in the Topaz Incarceration Camp in Central Utah in 1942, according to his obituary.
He lead the Englewood Eagles to a city championship in 1958. He made up for the lack of funding for sports by organizing the Englewood High School Alumni Association to raise significant funds for the athletic program.
During his time at Englewood, he rose to both Athletic Director and Director of the Driver Education Center.
The House of Representatives of the State of Illinois recognized his 38 years at Englewood with a resolution that read in part “Mr. Yamada became known as a coach who really cared for his athletes, and helped 90 percent of them to graduate from high school and many to go on to college. Yosh developed the philosophy that, “An individual will achieve and learn if he or she is dealt with as an individual. We, as adults, must command not demand respect if we intend to receive respect. Students must be treated fairly, with their individual needs being considered. All students will then achieve.”’
Eugene and Charles Hudson told the Sun Times they credit Yamada for helping them get into Morehouse College.
Both are related to singer and actor Jennifer Hudson and when three members of her family were killed in 2008, the family invited Coach.
He sat with the family,” said Charles, a first cousin of Hudson’s mother Darnell Donerson. “That did us a lot of good to see Coach show up.”
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