(09/28/12) - Friends and relatives said goodbye to coaching legend Jack Pratt Friday. Pratt was 84 when he died Monday. He coached his Flint-area football teams to more than 300 wins during his long career.
About 400 people packed the gymnasium at Powers Catholic High School to pay their respects to Pratt, who spent much of his coaching career there. He started at Flint St. Matthews, but also instilled values at Kearsley and Grand Blanc.
One player, Kim Thompson, drove from the Washington D.C. area for the funeral.
"He never forgot that he was a teacher, educator, father, Christian and that he was coaching kids. That's the Jack Pratt that I knew," said Thompson, a 1980 Powers graduate and basketball player.
It's not an exaggeration to say Pratt was one of the most beloved sports figures in the Flint area.
"He molded us I think into what we are and who we are today," said John Sperla, a St. Matt's grad who played football, basketball and track.
"Whatever you do, you do excellent. You just don't do it halfway. You do it excellent," remembered Paul Staroba, a St Matt's grad, who played football, basketball, baseball and track.
Pratt taught and coached for more than 50 years, including basketball, and often said he never worked a day in his life. He won a state football championship at Powers in 2005. He retired in 2006, but his student-athletes often kept in touch with him. What he taught on the field applied to real life.
"He was always my favorite teacher. He always got the most out of me. I don't know where I would be today if I had not had him," Sperla said.
"Everybody on that team has stories they could tell of what he did for them that was positive. Everybody! And he treated us all the same," Staroba said.
"He was a vicious competitor. A quiet storm." Thompson said.
His players say Pratt knew exactly what to say and do to get the most of out each athlete.
"Jack was just a person that really, really made a tremendous impact," Thompson said.
"We learned a lot of lessons from him and we carry those things through life. We miss him. I think about him a lot," Sperla said.
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