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Rogers Historical Museum scores exhibit on legendary football coach

BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

The exhibit at the Rogers Historical Museum is filled with memorabilia of the career of Blackie Bond, Rogers High School football coach for more than three decades. But the real tribute to Bond’s legacy lives in Atlanta, played football at RHS, walked on at the University of Arkansas in 1981 and spent his own working life as an offensive coordinator at colleges like Illinois State, Army, Northern Illinois, Georgia Tech, Georgia State — where he helped start the football program — and Northern Iowa, where he was coaching in 2018, when his dad died.

“He’s really never far from me,” says John Bond, who has mostly retired from coaching to spend time with his three children, the youngest of whom is 14. “He was a great coach and a better dad and grandpa.”

Memorabilia from Coach Bond’s career is on exhibit through Sept. 25 at the Rogers Historical Museum. (Courtesy Photo/RHM)

The elder Coach Bond moved to Rogers in 1959, taking the job of Rogers High School assistant football coach and social studies teacher. Over the next 34 years, he amassed an overall record of 190 games won, 89 games lost, and five undefeated seasons, one of them with his son at quarterback. However, John says he was in full pads at football practice as soon as he was big enough to wear them.

“It was a great way to grow up,” he says. “My earliest memories are being down there at that football field, smelling the fresh cut grass, helping them line the field — and it was always a big day when the new equipment came in in the fall.” While he says he liked all sports — “there were no Xboxes or cell phones, so we were outside all day long, and if it didn’t involve a ball, I wasn’t interested” — it never occurred to him to play anything but football. He says playing for his dad was what he expected: “He was harder on me than most of his quarterbacks, but I figured that going in.” The team went undefeated his sophomore year, but came back “complacent” as juniors and didn’t do well. “We had a really good year as seniors, went 7-3 and should have made the playoffs,” he says. “We came up a little short, but it was a great experience.”

The younger Bond wasn’t so sure about the experience of seeing his father’s memorabilia on display in an exhibit at the Rogers Historical Museum. In fact, he admits he cherry picked a few items before the donation was made. But when he saw the exhibit in June, “I really thought they’d done a great job — so good, and such a tribute to all of his teams.”

More memorabilia focuses on the RHS Mounties. (Courtesy Photo/RHM)

Rogers historican James Hales wrote about Coach Bond in a 2018 column, pointing out that his wife, Sara, “also had a remarkable record in education — she taught English at Rogers Junior High for 30 years and retired in 1989.” He added that Coach Bond was one of the first to be inducted into the Rogers High School Football Hall of Fame when it was established in 1999, was named conference coach of the year six times, All-Star coach three times, Arkansas’ outstanding football coach in 1978 and head coach of the west All-Stars in 1979. Bond assumed the full-time athletic director position at Rogers High School in 1988 and retired in 1993.

The former players also had plenty to say about their mentor when Hales contacted them, as evidenced by Roger Gregory, the Mountie quarterback from 1968-70, who said: “Coach developed an attitude of confidence in his players. We did not think about whether or not we would win a game, but how much would be the margin of victory. Once we played Subiaco, and the half-time score was 0-0. He gave us an attitude adjustment halftime talk, and we won the game 40-0.”

“The team was like a family, and Coach very skillfully convinced the players to accept me and fit me in,” Kim Dameron, Bond’s quarterback in 1978, told Hales. “We went undefeated in the conference but lost in the second round of the state playoffs. Coach Bond was everything that you could want in a head coach — a great motivator, teacher and family man. He balanced family, coaching and his love of fishing.”

“There were also various signs all over the field house, such as ‘A quitter never wins and a winner never quits,’ and ‘You can’t fly with the owls at night and soar with the eagles in the daytime,’” added Jim Lingle, who played for Bond on the 1964 undefeated conference championship team. “My favorite was the one over the equipment room: ‘We furnish everything but guts.’ I discovered that wasn’t true, of course. They didn’t furnish, size, strength, speed or talent.”

“He usually gave us detailed instructions, but once, when things were going bad, he just grabbed Jim Billy Winchester and said, ‘Get in there and score a touchdown!’ Jim Billy did,” remembers Jim Lingle, RHS Class of 1964. (Courtesy Photo/RHM)

When Coach Bond got sick, his son remembers, many of his former players stopped by the house in Rogers, and that brought his dad great joy. But perhaps his greatest thrill was traveling “all over the country” to watch John’s teams play ball.

“I think he was proud,” John says quietly.

Asked what advice from his father he carries with him, John’s answer might sound like it’s about sports — or not.

“Control what you can control, do the best you can and don’t worry about the rest of it; it’ll take care of itself.”

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FAQ

‘Coach Blackie Bond: Rogers High School Football Legend’

WHEN — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, through Sept. 25

WHERE — Rogers Historical Museum at the Hailey Building, 313 S. Second St. in Rogers

COST — Free

INFO — 621-1154 or rogershistoricalmuseum.org

Categories: Family Friendly