Nash to retire after 31 years at Douglass

Recently, John Nash was sitting in the athletic office at Douglass High School. He thought a moment and suddenly realized how much time has passed.

As athletic director, football, basketball and baseball coach during his 31 years at the West Baltimore school, Nash hasn't really had much time to think.


In June, Nash will have the opportunity to think and relax when he retires, ending a tenure that has lasted through eight principals, thousands of students, hundreds of athletes and games.

"I've had some good times, some bad times, some frustrating times and some exciting times," said Nash. "It has been a learning experience each and every year and have enjoyed the association with the young people that you have touched and hope you sent them in the right direction."


Nash, 60, will have the opportunity to spend time with his four grandchildren and wife of 37 years, Doris, who also will be retiring from the city school system at the conclusion of the school year. She is the girls cross country and track and field coach at Northern High.

Nash said his family wanted him to retire from coaching five years ago and devote his time to running the Douglass athletic department, which he has been doing for the past 15 years.

On the sidelines, Nash has an intense and fiery demeanor that, at times, has rubbed some people the wrong way. It's that same intensity that helped make Nash a three-sport standout at Virginia State University in the early 1950s.

"He can be overwhelming at times," said Joe Ward, who played basketball for Nash from 1985 to 1989. "He has been a good coach and a good person. His presence around the school definitely will be missed."

Nash coached basketball and baseball in 1965, his first year at Douglass. The next year, he became head football coach. In 1975, he stopped coaching baseball, then five years later, replaced Roy Cragway as athletic director.

His only championship came in the 1988-89 season when Douglass won the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference basketball title. Last season, the Ducks reached the state 3A championship game at College Park, overcoming an 1-6 start. This season, Douglass is 11-3 and ranked No. 19.

While Nash has overseen a rebirth in the basketball program, football has been a struggle. Poor turnouts have resulted in one .500 season in the past 15 seasons.

"It has been a disappointment," said Nash, whose team went 0-9 last season. "Every day I accepted it as a new challenge and tried to do the best I could with what I had to work with."


Said senior Taiwo Brown, who played football for three seasons: "It's going to feel pretty strange to come back to Douglass and not have him around. He always tried to build spirit in everyone."

Nash has coached notable athletes like Raymond Chester (Baltimore Colts, Oakland Raiders), Albert Johnson (Houston Oilers), Daniel Ludd, Eddie Green, Ricky Moore, Joseph Green, Joe McDaniel and Ben Eaton.

Another of his former athletes, Wayne Cook, is the basketball coach at City. Some of Nash's former students have become his co-workers at Douglass, including Orrester Shaw, the school's principal.

"You never think that old Trojan war horses would give up, but he has worked very hard," said Shaw, who graduated from Douglass in 1966. "He has seen the school and students change so much since I was a student as far as their attitudes and desire."

Nash graduated from Dunbar High in 1952, where he played football and ran track. He tried out for the basketball team, but was cut by legendary coach Sugar Cain.

At Virginia State, he played basketball, starting as a freshman at center. He also was a starting two-way lineman for the football team.


In 1955, Nash won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association high jump championship. His athletic endeavors garnered him a spot in the school's Hall of Fame in the summer of 1993.

After he and his wife returned to Baltimore in 1961, Nash taught at Carrollton and Harlem Park middle schools. While at Harlem Park, Nash worked at Douglass as a football assistant to Cragway.

One year later, he moved to Douglass when Cragway took over as athletic director. One of Cragway's first moves was making Nash basketball and baseball coach.

As June draws nearer, Nash doesn't want any fanfare over his retirement. After quietly going along at Douglass for the last 31 years, he wants his departure to be no different.

"I've accepted the fact that I had a job," he said. "I've just tried to do the job as best as I knew how. I've tried to be a hard-working individual but a fair and meaningful person in all of my actions.

"I've enjoyed my stay at Douglass. I'm going to miss it, but I hope I've done something that was worthwhile in that period of time. I hope those persons that I've been in contact with will appreciate what I tried to do and the point I've tried to make. All I can say about that is that I mean it because that's how I feel."