Everyone whose life was embraced by Coach Blanke has their own personal story. Many have the common theme of "I wouldn't be where I am today had it not been for Coach." Many of us did not realize our potential until Coach showed us we could do that which we doubted we could do. There are those of us that lacked direction until we felt his guiding hand on our shoulder, or a much needed kick in the butt, to point the way.
While there is a common thread in the stories listed on this page, every story is as unique as Coach Blanke. The experiences and the lessons learned from his guidance are what made us unique as well. It made us Goldbugs. Here are but a few of those stories.
Jesse Love '75

Coach Blanke has definitely been an inspiration in my life. As a student, football, basketball and baseball player at Mckinley, I was around Coach Blanke more than I was at home. He not only provided much needed guidance, but also support. If one really needed to talk to him, he would always listen. We all knew he was a very tangible person in our lives. During that time there was definite diversity within the school. Coach Blanke always stressed together we win, divided we lose. I would like to thank you Coach for being a part of my memories. (Mighty! Mighty! Goldbugs)

Spiro Athanas '60

Since graduating from McKinley, I’ve played for a number of coaches and gotten to know many others. Coaches Jules Blanke, Leroy Glore, and Joe Mittino set high standards of personal integrity, gentlemanly behavior, and kindness in victory and defeat, on and off the field, that have never been equaled in my experience. Not only were they classy coaches, they were sweet guys, full of good humor and the unshakable belief that participating in sports was supposed to be fun. I’ve lived in Bloomington, Indiana (home of Indiana University) since 1976, and until 2000 when he was finally fired, I watched with horror, the antithesis of Blanke, et al, in the despicable, bullying antics of Bobby Knight. I feel sorry for any kid who doesn’t get to play for the kind of coaches we had at McKinley.

John Glore '61

When I was in school, Blanke coached the "C" team basketball, Leroy Glore coached the varsity, and Joe Mittino coached the "B" team. Two teams would practice at once in the little gym at school with the posts & low ceiling. The third team would practice dribbling in the basement hallway. Every 30 minutes they would rotate. Yet, all 3 teams had winning records. Blanke always made something out of nothing. I will always remember the closeness of the coaching staff and the amount of fun & laughter that came from the office behind the gym. They were wonderful people, wonderful role models, and it was obvious that they loved their jobs, the kids at McKinley, and life.

Jim Smith '53

I could spend most of the day telling stories about what Coach did to help me in football, but my favorite and life-changing story has nothing to do with sports. I had been able to register for shop, woodwork and a few other special classes. As I was going to my locker, Coach happened to see my registration form and inquired as to my classes for the next semester. When I shared my demanding schedule, he said "Come with me". We went to the office where he indicated that I would be making some class changes; from Woodworking to Trigonometry; from Metal Shop to Chemistry and from some other easy class to Biology. This changed my focus and gave me the necessary background to attend college and to compete academically as well as in sports.

Virgil Matheus '46

During the summer of ’38 or ’39, Jules Blanke showed up at Pestalozzi’s summer playground as the boy’s coach. He coached the boys’ softball team. In my minds eye, I can still see Coach Blanke with his chino pants and white T-shirt and nearly always with a smile on his face, or the classic Blanke grin. He treated us a lot differently than our regular teachers at Pestalozzi, who told us, "If any of you do go to high school, don’t take algebra. It will be a waste of your time. You will never use it." By his demeanor and his actions he made us feel worthwhile as he expected more from us than our teachers. He helped instill self-confidence and a can-do attitude. He did this through some verbal instruction and also through action. Whatever he asked us to do, he could also do. He showed us he could hit, run and field and he did it in such a way that we felt we could do it too.

Although we had fun, Coach was a no-nonsense guy, as anyone that went to McKinley knows. One day during softball practice, some big kid, bigger than Blanke, started some trouble and Blanke ordered him off the playground. The kid took his time and when he got outside the five foot fence he started taunting Blanke in a high-pitched feminine voice calling out “Hey Julie”. Coach Blanke went on with the practice as though he didn’t hear this kid when suddenly he spun around, hopped that five foot fence and had this kid down on the sidewalk and the punk was begging for mercy.

Once in awhile over the years, my thoughts would take me back to Pestalozzi and Coach Blanke. More and more I realized he played an important part in my life and many other lives. Coach Blanke helped open up the world for me to all the possibilities that are out there. He was always generous with his time and wisdom. I owe him a lot.

Frank Windegger '53
I first met Coach Blanke at a basketball game between his Goldbug ‘B’ team and our Hodgen playground team. Having the future McKinley star, Harold Alcorn, on our playground team, we beat his team. I started McKinley shortly thereafter and one day I was walking down the stairs and encountered Coach Blanke on his way up. I greeted him with "Hi Jules". He popped me pretty good, and I went down the stairs. He looked at me and said "Only my close friends call me that. To you I am Mr. or Coach Blanke." He is still Coach Blanke both in my memory and my heart.  

I went out for the ‘B’ team football team and they made me a center. My talent and interest were not there, so I quit football. Later that year during a gym class, I was throwing a football and Coach asked me if I would come back out for football and try out for quarterback. I did, and with his tutelage, motivation, and mentoring I made it at that position.

My father had died before I started high school. I felt I needed to go to work to help my mother who was working hard to support us. Neither she nor my dad had gone further than grade school. She insisted I go to high school. So, my beloved mother and Coach Blanke kept me in school. Coach, who later became my father image, mentor, and loyal friend, helped make the life that I have been able to fully enjoy. To go from playing in the streets and the playgrounds of St. Louis to the fields and diamonds of great universities is a dream come true. I am indebted to the Coach for all of it.

Jim Patterson '54
While I attended McKinley I lived in Roosevelt's district. We moved from Lafayette and California to Arsenal and California shortly after I graduated from Hodgen. My father thought I should attend Roosevelt, but allowed me to choose. I am glad that I didn't take his advice that time. After graduation from McKinley I started Harris Junior College and met Terry Williamson. Terry lived on Longfellow and Lafayette which was in McKinley's district, but he attended Roosevelt. He did so because when his family moved there, their landlady, Violet Owens, a McKinley English Teacher, said that Roosevelt was a better school. Terry spent some time with Coach Blanke at social events at Ms. Owens home, and has since told me many times he wished he would have attended McKinley. He played football at Roosevelt but regrets to this day he never got to play for Coach.
Fred Varney '63
I wasn't the best student in school. In my freshman year at Roosevelt High School, I had four F’s and two C’s. My parents had given me permission to drop out of school, but some friends from McKinley talked me into transferring to McKinley. Since I lived on the borderline, I was allowed to transfer. That was a life-changing decision...because that's when I met Coach Jules Blanke.

The football team had just finished several years of championship seasons. Most of the best players had graduated, leaving a team that was small, slow and frankly not very talented. I was the biggest one on the line and I only weighed 190 lbs. We won only one game and tied two. Coach expected us to give our all. He did. He expected us to be there for the team. He was. He didn't tell us that; we just saw it in his manner and in his life. He had such a strong influence on me that it stays with me to this day. If it hadn't been for Coach, I would have dropped out of school and my life would have been very different than it is today. But he was there when I needed him, just like he was there for so many other guys at their time of need. He not only showed me how to be a better athlete, he showed me how to be a better man. His passion, caring and never-give-up attitude will continue to influence me as long as I live.

Dennis Wilson '49

I never forgot a conversation I had with Coach Blanke. It was short and sweet, but I never forgot it. He said to me "Are you going to make something of yourself? You appear to be smart enough. Don't waste it. If you do you will never forgive yourself." The entire conversation took maybe five minutes. I guess it wasn't so much what he said but how he said it. As anyone who knew Coach will remember...he could look right through you when he was serious.

Don George '58

The St. Louis school system became fully integrated during my sophomore year and it was a change that wasn’t as well received by some as by others. There were threats of violence and both the new African American students, as well as a good many of us already attending McKinley, were apprehensive about those first few days of transition. But our fears were quickly allayed, when upon arriving within view of the campus there was coach, at the head of a group of teachers, welcoming one and all to the new school year. Coach was brandishing a baseball bat to let everyone know that the transition at McKinley was going to be peaceful. His presence rallied all of the jocks, as well as the rest of the student body, to endorsing this change and welcoming the new students to campus.

The Glore Girls; Betty, Irma, Joyce, Paula, & Brenda

Our brother, Leroy Glore, worked with Coach Blanke. One day, he brought Coach home when our little sister Brenda was 3 years-old. She had heard Leroy often talk about what a smart man and a great coach Blanke was. Leroy used words like kind, good, gentlemanly, respected, and well-liked. The sisters said he was young and handsome. When Brenda met Blanke she looked at him and said, “You’re not so hot.” Of course, the rest of us were saying, “Oh, yes he is!” A few years later she thought so, too. Let’s hear it for Blanke! Here’s our cheer. It’s loud and clear."

If you have a story about Coach Blanke that you would like to submit for possible addition to this page, please click here to send us your personal story.