Dutton Wall: More than just a legendary coach
As I sit here staring at the computer screen hoping to find the words that would truly honor the passing of Marion “Dutton” Wall, I can’t help but think about the one adjective that seems to pop up when his name is mentioned; legend.
But to me, Coach Wall was more than just a legend. To me there are so many more meaningful words that can be used to define the man that touched thousands of lives over the course of his Earthly existence.
Coach Wall was, in every respect, a husband, a dad, a teacher, a gentleman, a scholar and a mentor. But more than that, Coach Wall was a friend.
With all of the accomplishments that he achieved in his lifetime of coaching, the biggest accomplishment that the down home compassionate soul from Amite could claim emphatically was that of being a remarkable human being.
When I first met Coach Wall, I have to admit I was a little intimidated by the fact that he had achieved so much in his coaching career. I really did not know what to expect from one of the greatest coaches the state has ever produced.
But, the second I shook hands with him, I felt at ease. He never came off, as some legendary coaches do, arrogant or aloof. In fact, I was startled that the conversation we had that initial meeting was more about myself and my family, whom he knew.
It did not take me long to see why Coach Wall was a giant in LHSAA football circles and why he had so much success as a teacher of the game. His intelligent, genial approach with people and his humility shown through immediately.
As I began to become more familiar with Coach Wall, the one attribute that stood out to me more than any other was his dry sense of humor. Many a time, I would fall out laughing, not just because of what he said, but the way he said it. You had to be on your toes to catch those subtle undertones.
For me, the best part about knowing Coach Wall was just to be able to sit down and talk to him one-on-one. There were a number of times I sat in his office and just talked about anything and everything. I was especially mesmerized by the stories of his coaching past. I could just sit and listen to those experiences all day.
I guess you have noticed that I have not mentioned the knowledge of the game of football I was able to collect from Coach Wall in the time I was fortunate to be on staff with him at Sacred Heart. Believe me, I listened and absorbed as much as I could.
But, I find myself more blessed that I was able learn more about how to be a good person and a gentler teacher to my players and students than just learning about the X’s and O’s of the game.
When it came time to produce a story for The Gazette’s football edition this August, something inside of me kept saying that I needed to interview Coach Wall. Call it intuition, call it fate, call it what you want. What I call it was thankful; thankful that I got to spend a couple of hours learning more about this legend’s humble beginnings.
I want to believe that Coach Wall is in Heaven right now guiding God’s gridiron squad of angels, getting ready for the next big game. I can promise you one thing, the Almighty did not have to interview Coach for the job on his staff because he has already earned that right for the good he produced here on Earth. In fact, the Lord would do well to name him the head coach. No one deserves that title more.
I was just one of many people that were touched by Coach Wall and I am honored to have been able to know him for the time I did.
May you rest in peace Coach!!!!