Price’s tenure focused on life lessons

We all pass through this very brief life experience on this planet, and in doing so, we interact with, influence and affect, and in some rare instances, make an indelible imprint on others.

Harold Price, who recently passed away, was one of these uniquely gifted individuals who did precisely that.

At a very early age, I had the privilege of watching a youthful Price run through, around and over our proud Williamsburg Blue Pirates football squad. That fateful evening, he was wearing an Everett Warriors’ uniform on Williamsburg’s Veterans Memorial Field.

Price would return some 10 years later in the summer of 1961, as an enthusiastic, young head coach, eager to take the reins of our Blue Pirates’ program.

As Price took stock of the prospects for the upcoming 1961 season, he quickly realized it wasn’t going to be any cakewalk.

There were only a couple of returning lettermen from the previous season, which featured a heavy load of seniors who had posted an 8-1 record and won a conference championship. Add to that, there was no junior varsity team to draw from, either.

For awhile, it appeared there would be no football Friday nights in Williamsburg for the first time since 1925. As the first day of practice approached, there was only one possible solution to this vexing dilemma.

Price went to band director Ron Roland and suggested that he urge his troops to try out for football. In a spirited patriotic response, enough recruits put down their drums, tubas and trumpets and marched off to the football practice field.

And the rest is history.

Price’s first two seasons at Williamsburg predictably brought enormous struggles, and after two years of diligent toil, not a single victory was attained.

Nevertheless, Price and his loyal assistant, Jerry Campbell, patiently persisted, and in 1963, the team compiled a more respectable 3-5 record.

Now with seasoned well-schooled veterans, the 1964 squad put it all together and amazingly captured the school’s fourth undefeated season in the long Blue Pirates’ tradition.

Several successful seasons would follow in short order.

Price’s ability to lead and coach were never in question — whether at Williamsburg, Windber, Dickinson or Lehigh. But eventually it was at Hollidaysburg, where he insured and cemented his coaching legend as one of Blair County’s all-time greatest coaches.

After 18 years of outstanding work with the Golden Tigers, he would retire in 1996.

I personally gained a first-hand insight into the spirit, fiber and character of Price, observing him play softball at our local community summer recreation program and also in the area’s fast-pitch league.

He would confidently anchor himself at third base and then consistently handle scores of blistering shots delivered by Galen Hall and other contemporary sluggers, some with his glove, but many others with his forearms, shins, chest and chin.

Price was totally fearless when protecting the hot corner.

Very much the same way on the football field, whether in practice or games as a player or coach, Price exuded a quiet, steady, self-confidence that spoke volumes without exhibiting even a slight trace of arrogance.

His sincere humility only added to an exceptional legacy.

Price’s coaching philosophy, put into practice, involved hard work, intense focus on details and execution, tireless hours spent on fundamentals, sound preparation and an insistence on fair play and good conduct. Justifiably, he demanded the same from his athletes.

We should be eternally grateful for that experience.

The last few years were not easy ones for Coach Price and his special family. I recall sending him a congratulatory card when his beloved, long-suffering Cubs finally became world champions.

Hopefully, he was able to enjoy it.

Our athletic community has lost another giant. The life lessons Price taught were many, and well learned by his students and players alike.

In the present era, where authentic role models are more and more difficult to identify, whether in politics, entertainment or sports, Harold Price was a bright, shining star.

During his senior year at Williamsburg in 1962, Don Appleman played baseball for the Blue Pirates, who were coached by Harold Price.