By Nick Gholson
WF Times Rcord News
Some may argue about how he did it. But no one can argue with what he did.
Joseph Lester Golding was one hell of a football coach.
In his 15 seasons as head coach at Wichita Falls High School (1947-1961), Golding’s Coyotes were an amazing 152-22-2. They won four state championships in three decades (1949, 1950, 1958, 1961).
Golding was also a friend of the Oil Bowl and is being posthumously inducted into the game’s Hall of Fame this year. He coached the game five times (1947 through 1951) and is the main responsible for building Memorial Stadium, where the game has been played for the past 37 years.
Golding’s only son and namesake – Joe Golding — coached in two Oil Bowl basketball games. He was an assistant coach on the boys West team in 1997 and was the head coach on the West girsl team in 1998.
Joseph Golding, the grandson of the legendary coach, also caught two passes of 38 and 43 yards on a Texas touchdown drive that helped them rout Oklahoma 39-7 in the 1994 Oil Bowl. Joseph is now the head men’s basketball coach at Abilene Christian..
Joe Golding was a pefectionist who demanded perfection from his assistant coaches and his players. He was tough as nails. His players feared him. Some hated him. Bit all of them respected him.
“He was a tyrant. He would get after your butt and make you do things you didn’t want to do on your own,” said Jay Lavender, a hard-nosed linebacker on the 1961 state championship team.
Lavender’s younger son Jayson is now walking in Joe Golding’s shoes. He is the head football coach at Wichita Falls High school.
Ed Beach, who played for Golding 11 years before Jay Lavender, saw his coach in much the same way.
“In many ways he was an impossible man to get along with. He was such a hard disciplinarian. He was a tyrant,” said Beach, a star running back on the 1950 state championship team. “A lot of players would have quit, but they were too afraid of Golding to do it. They would rather stay our there and suffer than face him.”
Football was always No. 1 with Golding.
“It cost us a family,” he son once said. “He was gone before I got up in the morning. He would come home for dinner and then go back to the stadium again after dinner.
“I nevetr saw him a lot when I was little. The memories I have are all associated with football. We had a room off our living room which had a projector and screen in it. I can remember coaches like Darrell Royal , Buid Wilkinson and Bum Phillips. They would sit in there with Daddy for a day and a half, all of them arguing football back and forth.”
Life had been a tough on Golding as he was on his players.
He grew up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. When he left home for East Texas Teachers College,. He carried everything with him in a paper sack.
During World War II, Golding was a physical training instructor in the Army Air Corps, whippin troops into fighting shape. Four years later, he was whipping some other guys into fighting shape. Only these were fuzzy-faced teen-age boys and their war was played between the hash marks on Friday night.
“Even through the hottest days of two-a-days, I never touched a water bottle the whole time. I played for him. I scuked on a lot of wet towels. We never took a water break, but we spit a lot of cotton,” said Sammy Milam, who played on Golding’s 1961 state champion.
He was tougher in his earlier days than he was then.
“I lived across the street from Joe, and when I walked to school in the morning, I went out of my way just so I wouldn’t have to ride with him. You don’t realize what a tough guy he was,” said Jerry Fouts, a member of Golding’s first state championship team in 1949.
“You have to be one way or the other. You could be really nice like Chuck Moser down in Abilene who took his players to church or you could be tough. And when I say tough, I mean tough. Our high school practices were a lot harder than we had at the University of Texas,” said Leland Allred, who played on the 1958 state champion Coyotes.
“The games were a relief. I never came out of a game as battered as I did in practice sessions,” Beach said.
He was as smart as he was tough.
“He was a good moticator of players. He could have been a great lawyer if he had decided to do that,” Donnell Crosslin once told me. Crosslin was an assistant under Golding and later became the head coach of the Coyotes and won a state title in 1969.
“He would get animated, and when he talked to you, his eyes would light up. If you can’t get excited seeing somebody talk to you like that, then you ain’t got red blood flowing through your brains.,” Crosslin said.
“Joe was a great teacher. We never went into a ball game that our team didn’t know what we were doing and what the other team was going to do,” Golding’s loyal assistant Hunter Kirkpatrick once said of his boss. “I don’t care what defense they ran against us, we were going to operate some offense to beat it. His football system was as good as anybody’s at that time.”
In Golding’s final six seasons, the Coyotes played 81 games. The max at that time was 84.
His last four teams went 52-3-1, won two state championships and played for two other state titles. The three teams that beat them and the one that tied them were all state champs.
Golding died of hear attack in 1979 at age 62. He was posthumously inducted into the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame in Waco.
Tonight, the Oil Bowl welcomes him in its Hall of Fame and at a stadium he helped build and on a new turf field that now bears his name.