Charles Ridgely Warfield was known as “Ridge” to friends and contemporaries. But the former coach of the football and lacrosse programs at Boys’ Latin School was more commonly referred to by former players and his grandchildren as “Coach,” and he loved it.
“It meant everything to him,” his daughter, Jennifer Warfield Ritter, said. “All of his grandchildren call him ‘Coach,’ and all of their friends call him ‘Coach.’ He was known as ‘Coach’ to our children, their friends, their friends’ parents. He was very involved in all of their sporting lives. That was his favorite title.”
Mr. Warfield, a Baltimore native who also taught mathematics at Boys’ Latin Middle School for 12 years, died of a stroke Oct. 10 at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. He was 78.
Mr. Warfield guided the Lakers lacrosse teams to Maryland Scholastic Association championships in 1977, 1978 and 1979, and the football program to a 1977 Tri-County title. His death elicited an outpouring of condolences from former students and players.
Mr. Warfield’s greatest contribution may have been the impact he made on the scores of players he mentored on those teams, according to Dyson Erhardt, a former fifth grade teacher at Boys’ Latin and Mr. Warfield’s predecessor in the lacrosse program.
“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘I don’t think I ever remember Ridge without a smile,’ and I think that’s pretty true,” said Mr. Erhardt, who is an associate headmaster for development at the school. “And that kind of attitude rubs off on the kids he was teaching and coaching. That’s why I say the kids benefited by having him as a teacher and a coach, and they’re better people for having him as a coach and a teacher.”
The younger of two children raised by Charles Dorsey Warfield, a Navy officer, and the former Mary Tasker “Polly” Drewry, a homemaker, Mr. Warfield grew up on Roland Avenue. He played football and lacrosse at St. Paul’s School until his graduation in 1961 and even wrestled in a few matches as a heavyweight. But he had an ulterior motive for dabbling in wrestling.
“He did it mostly because the guy who wrestled for McDonogh in that weight class was his archnemesis on the football and lacrosse fields,” his daughter said from her home in Timonium. “He always laughed about that because he was not a wrestler.”
At Camp Wallula in New London, New Hampshire, Mr. Erhardt was a counselor while Mr. Warfield was his junior counselor. Mr. Ehrhardt said Mr. Warfield had a knack for making things easy for everyone else.
“He just always tried to make sure that the kids had a good summer,” he said. “He was always a people person.”
Mr. Warfield was a defenseman for the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team in 1966 and 1967, earning All-America honorable mention status as a senior. But he tended to avoid living in the past when the subject was discussed.
“He would say, ‘Look, that was 60 years ago,’” Mrs. Ritter said. “He was proud of it, but he was also like, ‘Please, come on, let’s talk about what happened yesterday, not what happened 60 years ago.’”
After graduating from Virginia, Mr. Warfield joined the staff at Boys’ Latin Middle School as a math teacher. He also served as an assistant coach on the varsity football team and the head coach of the junior varsity lacrosse team.
With the latter, Mr. Warfield led the junior varsity program to Maryland Scholastic Association championships in 1972, 1973 and 1974. The 1972 title was the school’s first junior varsity crown since 1949.
In five years helming the varsity football program, Mr. Warfield compiled a 27-14-2 record, and the 1977 team that went 9-0 was the school’s last undefeated team. He wrapped up his head coaching career in lacrosse with a 53-24 mark, but he had a greater objective, according to his daughter.
“To him, it wasn’t so much about winning a championship,” she said. “It was about the growth of the players and the growth of the team that he took great pride in. That was what he would always talk about — how the team had improved and how the kids grew.”
Bob Shriver, who was an assistant coach for Mr. Warfield in lacrosse before succeeding him, said Mr. Warfield connected easily with his players.
“On an athletic field as a coach, he could get some kids to do things that they clearly had no idea they were capable of doing,” said Mr. Shriver, a 1969 Boys’ Latin graduate who retired in 2015. “He was energetic, he was a passionate guy in everything. When it came to coaching, some guys wear it on their sleeves, and Ridge certainly wore it on his sleeves.”
Mr. Erhardt said Mr. Warfield’s strongest asset was his positivity with his players.
“He had a way of communicating to the kids without yelling and screaming at them,” he said. “He was a coach for the kids. He got more out of his boys than the average coach, and I think that was because he wasn’t a yeller and a screamer. He was a teacher, and he did a great job.”
Mr. Shriver said he tried to emulate Mr. Warfield in one aspect.
“One of the things that I clearly got from Ridge was trying to motivate kids,” he said. “Ridge had a unique way of doing it, and I kind of copied him. He was very passionate when he gave pregame or postgame speeches in relating to kids that way, and I’d have to say that I learned boatloads from him.”
After retiring from Boys’ Latin in 1979, Mr. Warfield co-owned a bar in Towson, sold hydraulic hoses and couplings, and sold mortgages to aspiring first-time homeowners. His hobbies and interests included attending horse races at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, vacationing in North Bethany, Delaware, and Siesta Key, Florida, and playing golf.
“He had a famous tan,” Mrs. Ritter said of her father’s habit of spending three months during the winter in Siesta Key. “It was the most beautiful, reddish tint. He’d come back from Florida bronzed in March, and everyone would be jealous.”
A passionate golfer, Mr. Warfield played his last round with his 16-year-old grandson, Wilson Ritter, on Sept. 16 at the Country Club of Maryland just two days after undergoing surgery to replace stents in his heart.
Mrs. Ritter said some of her favorite memories of her father included dancing with him around the kitchen while listening to Motown hits and listening to him read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” to his daughters and grandchildren every Christmas Eve.
Mrs. Ritter also recalled when her father climbed Rattlesnake Mountain in New Hampshire by himself in 2015.
“He sent us all a picture from the summit, and he thought he would never be able to do it again,” she said. “Five years later, the whole family climbed it together, including his grandchildren, and he was very proud of that.”
Besides his daughter, Mr. Warfield is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lynn WiIson Warfield of Timonium; two more daughters, Ann Warfield of Annapolis, and Dorsey Warfield Roseberry of Larchmont, New York; and six grandchildren.
The funeral service is private.