I never met Frank Stankey. I wish I had that opportunity.
By all accounts, Stankey was a legend.
The longtime Greenville High School physical education teacher, coach and mentor passed away early Saturday morning at the age of 71. His passing brought tears to many, an unbelievable outpour of condolences and rekindled fond memories in the community.
Stankey coached varsity baseball for the Yellow Jackets from 1962 to 1995. He compiled a career record of 456-238-3, while winning 11 conference titles, three district titles and one regional title. He was elected to the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996. Stankey also coached wrestling from 1966-72.
The Greenville varsity baseball field bears his name, and for good reason.
Aside from the coaching accolades above, Stankey was a mentor and friend. While he knew the game of baseball tremendously, it was Stankey’s relationships with players that left lifelong impressions.
“He was old school, but also ahead of his time in the way he listened and communicated with his players,” former player Duane Everest (class of 1977) said. “He taught us to stay humble, the game of baseball, but really how to grow up and become men.”
Tom Hallock played four years under Stankey’s leadership, graduating in 1987. Hallock is now the Greenville varsity softball coach and coached varsity baseball from 2002-06.
“I loved him. He was a terrific coach,” Hallock said. “I was very blessed to have many great coaches throughout and he is still one of my all-time favorites.
“He always had a great sense of humor and treated everyone the same. It did not matter if you’re the star of the team or the last on the bench, expectations were all the same,” he added.
Last September, Stankey was elected into the inaugural Greenville Athletic Hall of Fame.
“The closest thing to a John Wayne I ever met,” Greenville graduate Pat Caverly (class of 1980) said on Facebook. “An incredible man. I truly consider it an honor to be able to call him a friend.”
Greenville trainer Jeff Day played for Stankey, worked along side him and was his friend for many years.
“He was an outstanding coach, but an even better man,” Day said. “He will be missed.
Coaching meant teaching first. It meant teaching life lessons and how to be a productive member of society.
“Frank was the kind of guy, the way he coached, transcended the game of baseball,” Day said. “He coached back in the day the way we used to do things. He tried to coach young men, develop young men and if good baseball came out of that then it was an added bonus.”
I’m certain every person that encountered Stankey, whether on the field, in the classroom or on the streets will truly miss him.
Isn’t that the real testament of a great teacher and coach? How many people can you reach? How many lives have you touched?
Stankey reached and touched the lives of many. Rest in peace, Coach.