Looking back on a legendary career

May 17, 2004, midnight | By Ellie Blalock | 16 years, 8 months ago

Coach Lindsey retires after 24 years

Girls' varsity basketball Coach William Lindsey's office walls are plastered with photos. Smiling former and current Blazers beam widely, harkening back to the earliest seasons of Lindsey's 24-year career at Blair, a career which will draw to a close this year, as Lindsey ends a long and decorated chapter in the history of Blair athletics.

Lindsey, a guidance counselor, will retire from coaching basketball this year to the disappointment of players, students and fellow staff members. Lindsey's career has garnered great success for Blair, including a 1982 State Championship.

Strong beginnings

Lindsey was born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, attending D.C. public schools before graduating from Howard University. As a student at Howard, Lindsey played football and baseball and enjoyed basketball recreationally.

The former college athlete got his start as a coach through work with a women's recreational team and a girls' church team. After several years with the D.C. government, Lindsey moved to Pennsylvania, where he spent two years working in a special admissions program at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Lindsey came back to the Washington area looking for a job and was quickly hired by MCPS. He spent the next two years in an outreach program at Blair before becoming a guidance counselor.

During those first two years, Lindsey coached football and girls' track. In 1980, he made the switch to girls' basketball. Lindsey chose to coach girls over boys because of previous experiences with teams of both genders. "I had the experience with girls' track," he says, adding, "I've always felt, and I still feel, that young ladies are more open to coaching. They're more open to being somewhat responsible for what you're teaching them."

An illustrious career

In the 1980-1981 season, Lindsey found himself with a talented squad bound for success. "The first season I pretty much inherited a team that was on the verge of being very good," he says. Among the team's stars was Chris Vera, a transfer student from Northwood High School who would lead the Blazers through their strong first season and undefeated second season. Vera would later play for the University of Maryland. "She stood out as everything that exemplifies what you see in the men's game. She was ahead of her time," says Lindsey of Vera.

That team was followed by the most talented girls' basketball squad Blair may have ever seen. The Blazers won the State Championship in 1982 with much of Lindsey's first team returning. "We were undefeated. That was an awesome group," he adds nostalgically.

That 1982 championship was special not only for Lindsey and his team but for the rest of Blair. The Blazers rallied behind their championship team, holding two assemblies in their honor. "We had a huge following at States that helped set the tone for girls' basketball," Lindsey says.

Another legendary player to hit the Blair court during Lindsey's reign was Peppi Browne ('96). Browne, who wore number 44, was All-Met as a high school student and spent four years playing for Duke after graduation. During Browne's days, the girls' team would occasionally scrimmage the boy's team. "Just an incredible athlete," Lindsey says of Browne. "The boys' team was also super-talented, and they feared Peppi. She had the ability to embarrass them and that sort of carried over to the other girls." Browne went on to play in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting.

Three years ago on Jan. 11, 2002, Blair girls' basketball delivered its 300th victory since Lindsey became coach.

Saying goodbye

Lindsey will be retiring from his coaching position this year, after wrestling with the decision since this year's seniors were freshmen. He hoped to stay with that group of players until their graduation. "I promised myself that I'd take that four-year ride with them and then that would be it," says Lindsey.

However, Lindsey questioned his decision many times before making it final. "I got cold feet," says Lindsey. "Then I found out that I couldn't keep going back and forth. It was tough, but it was time."

Lindsey chose to retire in order to spend more time with his family, a luxury he hasn't had as the coach of a busy, competitive team. "In twenty four years, I've only had one Thanksgiving when I wasn't involved with basketball. [Retirement] gives me a chance to not have to plan around things, even though it wasn't a burden," says Lindsey.

History teacher James Mogge will be replacing Lindsey next year. Although this will be his first varsity coaching position, Mogge has coached JV teams at both Blair and Richard Montgomery High Schools. Mogge is optimistic about success in his coming career. "I think we have talented kids at Blair," he says.

Lindsey also has confidence in Mogge's potential as a coach. "Mr. Mogge will be good for the team. He is experienced, and he is knowledgeable about the kids," he says.

The outlook for Girls Varsity Basketball next year in general is very positive, according to Lindsey. "It potentially will be a very good team," he says. "I'm sure Mr. Mogge will do all in his power to continue the chance the girls know they have to be pretty good."

Lindsey's retirement has met with sadness, as most people are reluctant to see him go, especially members of the basketball team. Other staff members have also expressed disappointment in the decision, including Athletic Director Dale Miller, who has asked Lindsey to stay.

Lindsey, who will remain a guidance counselor, will also miss his coaching position and the friendships that have grown because of it. "Being in a position where you feel like you're having some impact - I'm going to miss that," says Lindsey.

As Lindsey bids goodbye to his career as a coach, the Blair athletics community bids goodbye to the man who has brought the school some of the greatest successes it has ever seen. Coach Lindsey will be sorely missed by students, staff and alumni as his extensive contribution to the school draws to a bittersweet close.

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Ellie Blalock. Ellie is a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys such activities as traveling, being able to say "water" in six languages and having heart-to-heart chats with eccentric politicians. If you're in need of a laugh, please ask Ellie about her driving record...you … More »

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