In 1970, John Payton became the first black assistant coach at Lamar University.Payton
is still teaching. BEAUMONT - When John Payton came to Lamar University in 1970 as an assistant football coach, he was more interested in breaking down film than in breaking new ground.
"When the job was offered, I was reluctant," Payton
said in a telephone interview on Wednesday."I never considered myself to be anything other than a coach.I talked to the athletic director and head coach.I was promised I would get a chance to coach.They didn't lie." Putting his trust in then-athletic director J.B. Higgins and coach Vernon Glass, Payton became the first black assistant coach in Lamar's history.
left the sidelines in 1982, but not the school.He remains a member of Lamar's teaching staff.
And now Payton
will forever have a place in Cardinal history. Payton
was one of six Lamar University
Cardinal Hall of Honor inductees announced on Wednesday.
"I was elated that they thought enough of me to put me in the Hall of Honor," Payton
said."It's been a while ago." Before coming to Lamar, Payton was an All-American running back at Prairie View A&M.He
also coached high school basketball teams at Woodville Scott and Charlton-Pollard to state titles in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
got to Lamar
, the coaching part didn't change much.But at least at the onset, the teaching did.
"I didn't have trouble with the athletes or the coaching staff," Payton
eventually gave up coaching, but retained his
"I enjoy teaching students," Payton
said."I just feel like my calling was teaching."
time as an offensive coach for the Cardinals
had some pretty good pupils.Two of them - Haynes and Robinson - will join Payton
in the 2004 induction class.
especially enjoyed that era of wide-open Lamar football.
And one of his
biggest disappointments - that there is no new era of the sport for Southeast Texans to enjoy.
"I don't think I ever will," said Payton
when asked if he
could forgive the death of Lamar football in 1989.