Ed Adamczyk’s article “A Man of Influence” about former Kenmore West head football coach, Jules Yakapovich, is off base and in my opinion maligns the man unfairly. As Adamczyk says in the article, he never did meet the man, so who is he to formulate such a strong opinion based upon hearsay?
I was one of those players who recently attended the 50th Kenmore East-Kenmore West anniversary game and yes, I played for Kenmore West and Jules Yakapovich. I played for him in the late ’60s during the height of the Vietnam conflict and much social unrest in our country. Jules was a former Marine and yes, he was tough. His opinions were fierce on subjects like duty, honor and patriotism and he wasn’t afraid to let you know how he felt on any given subject. On the practice field and on the sidelines, we understood that the program was not a democracy, but an autocracy. He was clearly the one in charge. Did I learn from him? Yes. Were his words and criticisms harsh at times? Sure. But, we weren’t in kindergarten looking for someone to hold our hand.
Yes, in the very twilight of his years, plagued by his own demons, he was definitely not the same coach he was for the vast majority of his career. I feel bad that he went out the way he did, making some decisions that clearly were not in his best interest. But, looking back on it all, I am thankful to have had him as a major influence in my life. I bear no grudges, I am not haunted by his criticisms, but instead I learned the valuable lessons of accountability, hard work and the value of discipline. Those are lessons that need to be taught as part of any athletic program. Jules understood this and thankfully, many of us benefited from his teachings.
Kenmore West Class of ‘69