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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saying goodbye to Ivy Loftin

Good friends Ivy Loftin (left) and Fred Fuhr coached together for years at Dondero High School in Royal Oak.

This huddle will be different.
It won’t be on the 50-yard-line. The venue has changed. It will be at the Kinsey-Garrett Funeral Home in Royal Oak.
Long-time Royal Oak Dondero football coach Ivy Loftin has died. He passed away Tuesday.
Loftin coached at Dondero 33 years. Here’s his obituary:
Iverson L. "Ivy" Loftin, age 84, a long time resident of Royal Oak, died June 22, 2011. He was born May 17, 1927, in Beebe, Arkansas to I.L. and Ruth Loftin. Mr. Loftin was a teacher and football coach at Dondero High School, Royal Oak, for 33 years, winning many championships and honors. He was a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Dondero Hall of Fame and the First United Methodist Church, Royal Oak. Surviving are his wife of 60 years, Patricia (Haley); daughters, Cynthia, Adrienne and Melinda; brothers-in-law, G. Keith Haley and Charles (Muriel) Hinz; cousin, M. "Billie" Simpkins; two nieces and two nephews. Visitation Friday, June 24, from 2-8 p.m. at the Kinsey-Garrett Funeral Home, 420 S. Lafayette, Royal Oak. Service Saturday, June 25, 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 320 W. Seventh St., Royal Oak. Memorials suggested to the Parkinson Foundation.
Frank Carr was an All-State player for the Dondero Oaks. He went on to play football and baseball at Albion College, and is now the athletic director at Earlham College.
“I was lucky to be a kid in Royal Oak in the 60s and 70s. It was a great family community and there were great rivalries; especially the Dondero-Kimball game,” said Carr. “I remember my dad taking me to a game on a fall Friday night with the smell of leaves burning, approaching Dondero and the lights in the distance getting brighter as we got closer. I remember eating a salted bagel that they sold at the game and thinking ‘Man, I hope someday I can play here.’
“Ivy was an important part of that time in my life. Reflecting on him, he impacted me and my career in coaching much more than I may have known. Seeing him, sitting in the gym at a basketball game, bald head and smiling made him human. He was special,” continued Carr.
Carr’s younger brother, Thomas Carr, followed in Frank’s footsteps. Tom also played for Ivy at Dondero and then Frank Joranko at Albion.
“He was a very good man. He cared for us; as people primarily and as players. He had a mind that was always moving, thinking of plays that would work against certain defenses and he was stubborn. If he had an idea of what would work in the games he would stick with it, until the inevitable was proven - it wasn't going to work!
“And he believed in that philosophy of the pass that whenever you pass, three things can happen and two of them are bad; a completion, an incompletion and an interception, so we didn't pass very often!  The option was as daring as he would get with the ball in the air.  He had a good sense of humor and I can hear that rather high squeaky voice as I think of him,” said Thomas Carr.
Thomas Carr is the senior minister at the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.
Both Frank and Thomas Carr are members of their high school’s Hall of Fame.
John Roberts is the athletic director at Adrian High School. He, too, played for Loftin at Dondero.
“I had the opportunity to play for Coach Loftin in the 1980 and 1981 football seasons.  He was a great inspiration in me becoming a high school football coach.  I started coaching in 1984 at Dondero and have coached high school football every year since. 
“I remember playing in the Dondero-Kimball game when both teams were undefeated in 1981 on a Saturday morning featuring two legends of high school coaching in Michigan; Paul Temerian and Ivy Loftin.  Unfortunately for us, the Knights won and became the first playoff team from Royal Oak.
“Many memories of playing for Coach Loftin are still discussed when I get together with teammates such as Ralph Lawson or Chuck Moulis about moments in practice, in the locker room, on the bus to or from a game, or a game itself.  I can remember we used to sing a song called "We'll follow the Old Man" on the bus after each Oak victory. 
“Coach Loftin was a demanding coach of his players.  We worked hard in practice, but we also shared laughs with him, Coach (Gary) Bryce and Coach (Fred) Fuhr.  He was someone that high school football coaches of today could learn a lot from about what is important in the game. Coach Loftin was a heck of person and we were all better young men having spent time with him as Oaks,” said Roberts.
So there you go, guys from the huddle who now are signal callers in totally different venues. Coaches do so much more than blow whistles and doodle X’s and O’s on chalkboards. They don’t just growl and tell kids to get tough or make them run some sprints by way of penance.
They send players sprinting into life. They try to get them prepared for adversity that lurks not just inside the five-yard-line but beyond the goal posts as well. Ivy Loftin was one of the best.
It’s time to huddle up on more time, Oaks. The coach would like that.


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