I was experiencing then the essence of the big-fish-small-pond turned small-fish-big-pond scenario. I didn’t know anyone because all of my friends had opted for that other Catholic school on 87th avenue between Bird Road and Coral Way.
The first period of the day was Physical Education. My first teacher, Coach Richard Stuart. Not a bad deal considering it meant I could come to school twice a week dressed in blue polyester shorts and white Reebok sneakers. It was also not a bad deal because my introduction to Belen Jesuit’s faculty was to the head football coach and to one of the few school employees whose last name was not written with an accent or whose family lineage did not somehow cross paths with mine at some point in the history of Cuba.
That was over thirty years ago. As I look back on that today, how could I have known that the same man who was assigning me jumping jacks and push-ups in training for the Presidential Fitness Test I was destined to fail, the man who organized our games of Barqball and flag football that ended in fist fights and torn P.E. shirts, would one day become the winningest football coach in Miami-Dade County history? Little did I know that the man who helped a couple of my friends and me launch the first-ever Belen golf team, the man who drove us to Riviera Golf Course and snuck us on to the 13th hole to practice right before the sun set until we got kicked out by course management, the guy who chaperoned my first mission trip to the Dominican Republic when I was a junior and got so sick that he lost 15 pounds in 10 days and was probably grateful he was never asked back, would go on to spend 34 years leading a football program whose massive success is not simply measured in wins, but in its ability to raise men.
Now, after 34 years as head coach of the Wolverine football team, with 224 victories under his belt, Richard Stuart will be hanging up his clipboard, whistle, and sideline headset to take on a new role at Belen Jesuit. For the 2017-2018 academic year, Coach Stuart will be stepping down as head coach to become the new Associate Athletic Director for the Middle School. As Associate Athletic Director for the Middle School, Coach Stuart’s responsibilities will focus his time and attention on the Middle School athletic program, while Coach Carlos Barquín will focus on the High School. Because of the extraordinary growth and success of our sports program under the leadership of Coach Barquín and our commitment to raising our own student-athletes from middle school to high school, the administration has found it best to invest Coach Stuart’s expertise on our young athletes. We are confident that Coach Stuart will dedicate to our athletes, their families, and coaches the same passion and attention that he gave to Belen Jesuit football.
In addition, we are happy to announce that the new Varsity Football Head Coach for the 2017-2018 season will be Mr. Eduardo Delgado ’91, who has served the program well as the Defensive Coordinator. Coach Eddie has been involved with Belen football for 26 years, first as a player and in recent years as a coach. We know that Coach Eddie is very excited about continuing the extraordinary legacy of his predecessor and mentor.
Please join me in thanking Coach Richard Stuart for his many years of service to the Belen football program and in praying for him as he begins this new position at the school to which he has given so much of his life.
Fr. Willie ‘87