TRIBUTE TO COACH ERNIE JENSEN
by Ray "Rosie" Rosenlof
Coach Ernie Jensen . . . Remember? It is with deep regret and sadness that I report the passing of "Coach Ernie Jensen" He passed on in Las Vegas, where he lived, on July 31.
We just called him "Coach" in my days - 1945 to 1949 - a time when coaches were considered as father-images and were treated with respect . . . Remember? And, in retrospect, with his "Fair Play" to me, 'Coach" had a great impact on my life. And because of my close connection with dozens and dozens of other coaches through the years, I truly believe that, of them all, Jensen is the one man that I would connect to the current popular trend to call someone "The Coach." Many reasons prompt that title: In those days there was no Pop Warner or Little League to prepare pre- high school players. Coaches had to teach you everything! And "Coach" taught well.. . . . Remember?
I was floored a few years back when I answered my phone to hear, "Rosie Rosenlof? This is Coach Ernie Jensen". I had not seen him for almost 50 years! And he remembered me? He said he was then 91 years old, legally blind, but he sounded as alert and strong as I had remembered him. We talked about old times. I promised to visit him in Vegas. Just plain laziness was the culprit that I never did. Now of course, it's too late. And of the thousands of athletes he had coached, surprisingly he actually remembered all of them!
"Coach"started at Excelsior in the 1930's coaching both "Bee" football and all three track teams (Varsity, Bees and Cees). He held those positions when I played on his '47 & '48 teams and was attempting to be a high jumper on his track team. Our '47 team football team went undefeated, claimed the league title and also the mythical CEF Bee championship....
Remember? Us little guys were pretty good .... Still are!
He moved to the brand new Bellflower High in, I believe, 1950 as the Athletic Director, and also coached the track teams.
He told me how proud he was a few years back when his granddaughter, Debby (now the head Woman's soccer coach at Cerritos College), donated one of her kidneys to her niece.
And he kept in touch with many past "Bee" Pilots. "Fuzzy" Perez ('48) was one, and he relates that every time they talked, "Coach,, ended it by calling a play - plays that we used over 50 years ago! He still remembered them! We little "Bees" are almost a fraternity.
And when he sent you into a game he would grab you by the jersey and shake you while he told you what play to call, and then shove you so hard onto the field that you almost fell down!. . . Remember? And when he awarded this writer an undeserved letterman's letter in '48, because I had "Busted my butt" ( that's as close to swearing as he ever got) for two years, he showed his sense of "Fair Play", And "Fair Play " or "Play Fair" (read or use it either way, it is the same) became my creed for all of my life!
I am sure that there are hundreds of mourners with the announcement of his passing. And I didn't know it at the time, 50 plus years ago, but I loved the man! I still do. How can I now express the respect and admiration I had for him?
And now, is all I can say is that Heaven is surely going to have a good team this year. After all; God has "The Coach " calling all of His plays. Hey 'Coach!", call "T-F-44 Quick!" Rest in peace,