A parade scheduled to honor a local coach

Published 7:35 pm Thursday, October 8, 2020

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An honorary parade is prepared to give credit to a coach who did much more than teach youth sports.

A drive-through appreciation parade to honor a beloved football coach, David Baker, will take place on Oct. 17. Those participating plan to meet at John F. Kennedy Middle School at 12:30 p.m. and then start the parade at 1 p.m. to Cypress Park Pool, 2001 Arizona Ave.

David Baker, also known as Ko-Koo, helped co-found the Suffolk Steelers in 1972. Since 1985, under Baker’s leadership, the Steelers have been invited to bowl games in the Mid-Atlantic region and competed in a national championship in Florida. Baker now serves as the organization’s overseer and spends his time helping the organization raise funds to support sports programs.

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“It’s good to have people in the community who are consistent,” said Donald Hill-Eley, a former player for Baker. “Not too many people have done something this long and touched so many lives.”

Recently, Baker was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This parade is the community’s way of celebrating him and thanking him for his years of impact.

During the 40-plus years Baker coached, he touched the lives of many who knew him. To many of them, Baker served as a consistent and positive role model.

Hill-Eley is now a head football coach at Alabama State University. Hill-Eley said he still has his MVP trophy from when he played for Baker to remind him to give back when he can.

“He’s been a coach, father, and everything else he could be,” said Hill-Eley. “This parade is to celebrate him and bring attention to the impact he’s had on the community.”

Terrence Warren also is a former Suffolk Steeler. Many may know him from his NFL days playing for the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.

“He taught us to be respectful young men, along with other ethics that I have carried into my adult life,” said Warren. “The messages taught to young kids shape who they become as adults. I could never thank him enough for truly being a father figure when my own father was absent, for sharing his family with me and team, and willing to be there for us.”

Another way to celebrate is by donating to the Suffolk Steelers via Cash App @$ICAA50.