Kermit Courville was groomed for excellence with an analytical mind, good family values, excellent high school teachers and coaches, and great historically black colleges and university experiences.

Courville was a 1954 graduate of Central High School, played football and baseball and ran track. He was coached by the legendary Ray T. Sheppard in football and baseball. Courville was coached in track by the well-renown Ed Mitchell.

Sheppard began coaching at Central in 1931. Sheppard had been an All-American football player at Paul Quinn College from 1922 to 1926. In 1927, Sheppard became coach at Paul Quinn College. In 1930, he coached and taught at Wiley College.

Additionally, Sheppard played professional baseball in the Negro League for several summers from 1926 to 1931. Sheppard had the knowledge to coach and condition with college and professional expertise.

Mitchell, a 1939 graduate of Central, was coached by Sheppard in football and track. Mitchell was part of the championship football teams of 1937 and 1938. After graduating from Southern University, Mitchell returned to Central in 1948 as an assistant football coach and track coach until spring 1962.

In fall 1962, Mitchell became the head football coach, Courville became the track coach, and Sheppard resumed the baseball coaching duties along with his athletic director and teaching duties.

Courville graduated from Southern University in spring 1958 and joined Central as a young teacher/coach in fall 1958. Previously, as a student at Central, Courville quarterbacked the team that lost the 1953 football district championship game.

Courville was catcher of the 1954 baseball team that lost the state championship in a one-game playoff to Moore High School in Waco.

In spring 1962, Courville was vindicated as he and Floyd Iglehart coached Central to the baseball state championship defeating Pemberton High School, of Marshall. In fall 1963, Courville was again vindicated as he was the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator of the 4-A state champion football team lead by Mitchell.

In spring 1964, Courville led Central to its first unified state championship in track and field and continued with regional and district championships in spring 1965, 1966 and 1967. In fall 1967, Courville was directed to coach at Ball High School and his coaching excellence continued.

My intent is to remind all how great Courville was, how great his mentors and co-workers were, and how they all honed their skills at nurturing historically black colleges and universities. Most importantly, we should never forget the significance of Central High School to the welfare and progress of Ball High School.

David O’Neal Jr. is a board member of the Old Central Cultural Center and lives in Galveston.

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(2) comments

Bailey Jones

Thanks for the history lesson. I walk by the stadium often, and always wondered about the name and history.

Charles Douglas

Coach Kermitt Courville was everything the author of this Op-ed said he was, but more! It is my opinion that if this coach is not in some official High School Hall Of Fame for Track, .....he should be! He commanded the respect of his players like one of my Old coaches did back then at Lincoln High. His name was Ralph C. Allen! We DONT Even have a school named after him! Ralph Allen like Coach Courville made a difference and bridged the transition from segregation into Integration forming one school district, without a major hitch! However, look how Central, and Galveston are taking care of Coach Courville's well deserved legacy, and ..... I'll leave it at that.

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