Coaches, along with parents and teachers, are some of the most impactful people that a young person will cross paths with. For Dickie King, a 1966 graduate of Staunton Military Academy that attended and ran track for four years at Thomas Dale, this was an opportunity to recognize the impact his track coach, Jack Westfall, had on him.
“I saw Coach Westfall at Kroger, riding on his mart cart,” explained King. “It made me wonder – if I was 80, would everyone remember everything I did?”
Two Fridays ago, Thomas Dale inducted their newest class into the Ring of Champions, the school’s hall of fame. Dickie King along with Dondi Shearer, Stephanie Stovall, Jamie Zeiters, Beth Jaeckle, Derius Swinton and Coach Ben Brockwell were slated to be inducted.
King, who participated in nine of thirteen track events and set seven school records for Thomas Dale from 1962 through 1965 had an idea. At the induction ceremony, he gave his plaque back to the coach he held so dear.
“It was my way of letting him know that I remembered him for his contributions to the children in the area as a teacher and a coach,” King explained. “All I am and all I’ll ever be is because of the teachers and coaches at Thomas Dale.”
After serving as team captain for two years at Thomas Dale and coming up a credit short of a diploma, King shipped up to Staunton Military Academy, graduated and headed to Ole Miss, where he was a two-year team captain, graduating in 1970. In 1973, he returned to Dale to coach football with Westfall under legendary head coach Ed Karpus before earning his own head coaching positions in football and track at Matoaca in 1974.
“I’ve had wonderful opportunities to be recognized,” King said. “All that mattered that night was him.”
To King, Westfall was like a second father figure. The Thomas Dale Hall-of-Famer candidly remembered herring fishing with Westfall and a good friend and teammate, Bobby Tucker.
“I can’t imagine many parents letting their kids go with their coaches in the water,” said King. “That’s how close our relationship was.”
Westfall started his career at Thomas Dale in 1957 as a health and physical education teacher, coaching football for 27 years, track for 18 years and basketball for five.
“[King] was the best I ever coached at track, and that says a lot,” Westfall explained. “He was willing to do more than one or two events – he did everything I asked him to do and then some, he’d try things other athletes wouldn’t.”
After a wonderful evening, Westfall took home King’s plaque and hung it on the wall. It was a great moment shared by two Thomas Dale gentlemen.
“It was such a great moment because Dickie [King] was such a great athlete.”
Though Westfall retired from Thomas Dale in 1987, it’s apparent that his legacy still lives on, and resonates with King. After all, the impact a coach can have is one that could truly last a lifetime.