Narcisse an Example for Us All
Today, Bill Reynolds writes about Floyd Narcisse, the much-beloved Central High basketball coach who recently passed away from cancer:
I first met him at a summer league game in North Providence in the late 1980s. He had moved here from Springfield, Mass., transferred then by AT&T. From the beginning he brought an energy, a love of kids, and a big heart.
In those early years he used to host his own AAU tournaments, bringing in teams from New England and New York, then getting on my case when we here at The Journal either didn’t cover them, or did so sparingly. He always was an advocate for inner-city kids back then, something that often must have felt like always pushing a large rock up a long hill.
What I didn’t know then was how active he was in the community, whether it was in the Allen A.M.E. Church in the West End, or the John Hope Settlement House. It soon became apparent, though, that Narcisse was one of those people who never was going to stop pushing that rock, an activist in the best sense of the word.
The first column I did on him was in 1993, when we sat in a McDonald’s in Seekonk. He had been doing his AAU tournaments around here for six years then, and if he was frustrated by the lack of coverage, it never seemed to stop him.
I asked him why.
“We as black men — for the most part — don’t give back to the community,” he said. “I wanted to do that. I think we have to do that. And don’t tell me you don’t have enough time. I have a family. I have two children. You have to find the time.”
“You have to find the time.” That’s so true. Whether its on the field or court, or at your school or church or community, we need more people to give of their time, especially to our kids. The basketball court was Narcisse’s “in”, but…:
“It’s not about basketball,” he said one night before a game at La Salle. “It’s about teaching these kids to become people. Why is this important? Because this is an inner-city school and these kids face those stereotypes every day. You know the ones. That these kids are hoodlums. That they disrespect people, scare people. These are the stereotypes these kids face every day, the stereotypes all inner-city kids face every day.
“Our job is to teach these kids the real facts of life,” he went on. “Not to sugarcoat things. Because when they go out in the real world it matters how people perceive you. It matters how you dress, how you act, how you deal with people.”
These lessons need to be taught and reinforced every day. Not just to the inner-city kids, but to the suburbanites and the rural farm kids, too. It’s a big world and we are all judged, every day. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. Floyd Narcisse taught young men these lessons and many more. He changed lives. All because he was able “to find the time” for kids who couldn’t get the time of day from so many other adults. Floyd Narcisse was a true man and an inspiration. May he rest in peace.