Coach Robert “Jake” Taylor Honored
“This Is Your Life” Coach Robert “Jake” Taylor was the caption for honoring Gifford High School’s retired coach. Several former football and basketball players organized the tribute. It was befitting that the event was held in the Gifford Middle School’s Robert “Jake” Taylor Gymnasium named after the honoree.
Ms. Katherine E. Washington presided and the tribute was opened with prayer honoring God and the Christian principles taught by Coach Taylor. The Ministerial Association and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity presented him with plaques commemorating his life and his work as a coach. Coach Taylor is a Deacon at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Gifford. His family was present to acknowledge that he lives what he believes.
Coach Taylor began his career at GHS in 1951 and coached the Gifford High Tigers Boys Basketball team for 17 seasons during the 50’s and 60’s. His team won more than 200 games during his tenure. He took eight teams to state, seven of those in the Florida Interscholastic Athletic Association. Coach Taylor had seven seasons of 18 wins or more. Gifford’s first year in the Florida High School Athletic Association, his team had a 20-8 finish capped by a trip to the Final Four. His 1965 team won the class B South State Title.
The Gifford High Fighting Indians Girl’s Basketball Team, during his 8 years as coach (1980-1988) had 117 wins and 80 losses. Coach Taylor led the girl’s team to 4 District Championships and they were the only girl’s team to go to State as runners up from Indian River County. The ladies, former players, applauded Coach Taylor for their achievements on the court and in life.
Coach was described by former players as being strict, tough, and no nonsense coach who would make you run 15 minute laps around the gym if you messed up. One of the ladies in her tribute said, “I stomped his stop watch to pieces and placed it back on the bleachers so he could not time us. Coach didn’t know who did it, so I brought Coach Taylor a new stop watch as my confession and tribute to the greatest of all coaches.”
Eugene “Mooky” Idlette attributed his life of excellence to a paddling that coach gave him for being the class clown, “this turned my life around and I am the man I am because of coach.” Russell Norman said “I used to hate the principle of running the figure 8 during practice drills. Coach Taylor told us that the figure 8 prepares you for life’s challenges because life takes you in loops, turns and circles and through this you will learn to meet life’s challenges.” Another spokes person said “Coach always challenged me to run on my toes when playing football because that’s where the speed is and you have to stay on your toes in life to win.” All agreed in their presentations that Coach Taylor was right when he taught “respect and diligence because what you are going to be you are already becoming.” Clenton Taylor, the coach’s nephew summed it up this way, “he is a man of faith, and he loves family and friends.”
Coach Taylor responded to the tributes with these words: “I have tried to walk in loving obedience to God and to sow good seeds in the lives of others, to be patient and always thank God. I take no credit for personal achievements. I owe