Coach Bobby Alston, Memphis University School head football and track coach and athletic director, has announced his retirement after 47 years at the school, effective December 31.
“Bobby Alston has legions of alumni who played for him and saw in his coaching valuable life lessons that went beyond football and track and field,” Headmaster Pete Sanders said. “In a school of great teachers, he was one of the best. Throughout his career at MUS, he was student-centered in his thinking while upholding the school’s ethos of high academic standards and honor. Perhaps his greatest legacy is that he is the consummate school man who kept the institution’s culture vital and visible.”
Arriving in 1977, Alston became integral to MUS athletics and school culture, first teaching and coaching in the Lower School, and then moving to Upper School teams. He has served as head track coach since 1983, athletic director since 1997, and head football coach since 1998.
Under his leadership the varsity football program achieved four state championships and the varsity track program five championships, in addition to four runner-up finishes each. As athletic director over the school’s 14 interscholastic sports, he promoted the development of outstanding athletics beginning in Lower School and oversaw major additions and improvements to the football stadium, indoor tennis building, fencing center, cross country course, and soccer, lacrosse, and baseball fields.
Never one to seek accolades, Alston always shines the light on others.
“I have been blessed by God to be a part of MUS for my entire professional career,” he said. “Blessed to have been supported by my family. Blessed to have worked with so many outstanding coaches and teachers who taught me a great deal. And blessed to have been surrounded by so many outstanding young men who helped us in pursuit of bringing honor to the Red and Blue.”
One of those young men, MUS Board of Trustees member Will Thompson ’95, describes the coach’s great football mind and his humanity. “He was always on the cutting edge of the evolution of the game. He was an effective coach because he is a great man. He is humble, grounded, and focused on the big picture in all he does. He taught his players to love each other, work hard for each other, and fight tirelessly for each other. He would give credit for this team-first culture to his players, but it was all orchestrated by the example he set every day.”
Another of his former players, Board of Trustees Chair Jim Burnett ’83, cites triumphs that went beyond the field of play. “Oftentimes a scoreboard or overall record tells much of the story. In the case of Coach Alston, it doesn’t scratch the surface. For every gameday success and championship, there are a hundred things that the public will never know, and the beauty of Bobby Alston will keep it that way. He is a living testament of putting others first, and our boys have been the beneficiaries of that for over 40 years. I’m proud to be one of those.”
A search for a new football coach, led by the headmaster in consultation with an advisory committee, will commence immediately.