In Play with Tom Markowski

Black History Month: Henry Washington of Detroit coached in five decades, continues to give back to the community

Multi-Sport   | Tom Markowski

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Detroit – Henry Washington has been in a teacher in the Detroit area since 1979 and he can’t say for sure when he’ll stop.

To most, Washington, who became a member of the 60-and-over crown on Jan. 19, is best-known as a coach and he, at long last, got out of coaching in 2015 after having revived a dormant Detroit Southeastern girls basketball program. Washington, a Southeastern graduate, said he came back to his school to coach in 2014 because he said he didn’t want to see the basketball program be eliminated.

But that’s Washington. He just can’t seem to say no. Often he wouldn’t go looking for a job, the job followed him.

A lifelong Detroit resident, except for the time he spent in college and the Detroit Tigers farm system, Washington began coaching in ’79, not long after graduating from Oakland University.

“I came back to Southeastern and talked with Ernie Scott, who was my coach,” Washington said. “Ernie, who was still the boys basketball coach, asked me if I wanted to coach the freshmen team.”

That was it. That’s all it took for Washington to begin a coaching career that would span five decades. All told Washington would coach 71 seasons of basketball and baseball combined.

He coached baseball for 18 season at Southeastern. He also coached girls and boys basketball, and for four seasons he did both.

Washington was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Macomb College (1986-89) and wanted to get back to Detroit to coach.

“I was teaching at Foch Middle School