Coach Kerry Coombs, the Algebra Teacher?

KBonay's picture
March 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm

A while back, I made a comment about Coach Coombs being my Algebra teacher my freshman year in High School. Jason asked if I would be willing to share my experience and share a couple of stories, so I reached out to some of my old classmates for their best Coombs anecdotes. The stories they shared were vintage Coombs. Note: These experiences took place quite some time ago. Things were much different back then – social media, no camera phones and certainly no YouTube. Oh, and no Red Bull or Starbucks either!

There is no doubt that Kerry Coombs has made an instant impact at Ohio State both as a coach and as a recruiter. But what sort of impact did he make as a teacher? Well, most have mixed emotions. Yes, I said emotions, not a term you hear much in Algebra, but that is what Coombs brought to the classroom.

He was intense, as you can imagine. And loud, as if you couldn’t have guessed. But he was also very intimidating. I am not here to judge, just to give you what I recall from my days at Lakota High School.

Some of my female classmates openly admit to being "deathly afraid" of Coombs, and that to this day, they still have a fear of math. But that was Kerry’s approach, like it or not. Coach was very tough on athletes. The better you were, the harder he was on you.  If you excelled, he was quick to praise, but if you slacked, he would be all over you. And trust me, you did not want to get on his bad side.  One particular friend of mine ended up in Coombs' doghouse and never did redeem himself (although he didn’t try very hard, either). Coach made his days a living hell.

His classroom antics included throwing chalk-board erasers, again, mostly at athletes, using his favorite word, "stupid" and coming up with embarrassing anecdotes. One that I remember was when he asked a student to come to the chalkboard. Once there, he was instructed to draw a baseball diamond and explain what each base was. Coombs then approached the board, drew a brain in left field and said, "That’s where you are at. Left field! Now get in the game!"

Most of you have seen the infamous "sunshine" video from spring practice. I had a good laugh because I can’t even count how many times Coombs would call someone Sally. He would follow that by insisting that if you "Sit in the front row, you will not fail."

There is no question of the impressions Coombs left behind at Lakota. He was a master motivator – some would argue his approach bordered on harassment. But he got the job done. He wanted students to embrace math and to learn about how to apply what he was teaching to life and jis success rate was proof of his approach.

I love all the Red Bull references, so I thought you would like to know he came to school every day with three huge coffee-filled thermoses.  In fact, he made coffee so cool, we all soon began to drink it (many years before Starbucks had arrived in the Cincinnati area).

I will leave you with two quotes that were given to me by a classmate who is currently a track coach in the ACC. They were two of his favorite expressions during two-a-days:

"It will feel better once it stops hurting."


"A lot of dead people wish they were out here right now."

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