Coach Walter J. Brugh: The Victor


Pen and ink drawing of my dad, Walter Brugh, who coached football for 44 years at Paintsville (Ky) High School. Pen and ink illustration by Michael Brugh, 2006.


(Note: I am republishing this tribute I wrote of my father on the anniversary of his passing away, February 11, 2014. – MB)

A personal note, about my father, Walter James Brugh, Sr.

My father was a football coaching legend at Paintsville (Ky) High School. He played football for Paintsville, then fought in the Philippines during World War II. He returned home, graduated from Paintsville High School, then went on to play college football at The Citadel. He then returned home to coach Paintsville football from 1951 (as an assistant coach under Jim Wheeler; he became head coach in 1955) to 1994. He amassed a record of 280 wins, 136 losses, and 5 ties.

He is even in the 1993-94 Congressional Record., on page 24.

This post does not even begin to list his accomplishments. Perhaps one day I will honor him with a proper site as a tribute to his enduring legacy. He passed up many chances to coach college football in favor of helping young boys become men. Men of honor, good character, and assets to their families, their team, their community, and their country. I am blessed and proud to be called Coach Walter Brugh’s son.

His way of motivating us to play hard and play our best began in the locker room. Before each game, he would have all the players, coaches, and managers, take a knee, while he performed two tasks: Reading C. W. Longenecker’s “The Victor,” and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

We were all the better for it.

The Victor (by C.W. Longenecker)

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win but think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

My father passed away Feb. 11, 2014, at the age of 87. His spirit of excellence, his determination, his exuberance, his good character, lives on. It will live on in his family, his former players, coaches, managers, and teachers. He joins my beloved mother, Nancy, who passed away in May 2011.

I presented to Dad the above pen-and-ink drawing back in 2008. It was one of the few times I had ever seen my dad tear up. He was visibly moved by the gift. I am glad he was able to see it, and receive a small (indeed, a too-small token) of my love, affection and appreciation for him.

A kind remembrance of dad was written by my former teacher/librarian June B. Rice, and can be found here. Another article detailing his amazing life and career can be viewed here.


    Melinda Johnson
    February 12, 2022 at 6:43 am

    This writing and the amazing drawing that you did is just the most wonderful tribute to Coach, your dad. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us who will forever hold him in such high regard! He and your mom were always so nice to me when Beth and I were in high school and beyond. He coached both of my brothers so I was at football games for years and he always made sure to speak to me and ask if I was doing ok. What a guy!

    You have such a talent! The drawing is truly amazing! I hope this finds you well!


      Michael Brugh
      February 12, 2022 at 9:46 am


      Thank you so much for your kind comments on my art. Yes, Dad was such a thoughtful, compassionate man wrapped up in a tough-as-nails football coach. What a great combination, right!

      I hope you are doing well, too. Life has thrown me for some loops, but I’m still here, and remain very grateful for my family and friends. Take good care!

    February 12, 2022 at 10:48 am

    Hi I am kim(Brugh)Hackley and I lvd n remember uncle Walter well ..always kind and commenting me when he saw me or we visited ..this pic is so amazing and such talent we r raising 3 grandkids now in our 50 plus age our middle grandson lvs football he played last year in 5th grade he is so involved in it I spoke to beth at aunt Betty’s viewing of coming down to visit and just share some pics n memories of uncle Walter with him..they all are good kids and God’s work in our lives is our guide also I lv the lords prayer part and the other written words I showed oir grandson and he pit it on his phone I feel many pple do not honor what should be honored before each game and that’s our heavenly father praying for more of this guidance in the sport field and our school’s..our children need this part for all areas in their lives and above all 2 parents guiding their lives so proud to see this part of uncle Walter and the great ways he taught his students n sports qe r trying so hard to raise up our grandkids strong n confident in all areas of their lives hope to visit a few times this year n see yall lv n miss u may u be blessed to all areas of life n health

      Michael Brugh
      February 12, 2022 at 6:22 pm

      Thank you and God bless you!

    Seth Ousley
    February 12, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Although I never got to experience a pre game locker room with coach Brugh, However I played my sophomore-senior year and it’s a proud tradition that still stands and the victor is still one of the few poems i can recite of the top of my head with no thought. Meeting coach would have been an honor, thank you for this article I truly enjoyed this article! Fantastic drawing, it looks awesome.

      Michael Brugh
      February 12, 2022 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you very much for your kind comments!

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