After more than four decades on the sidelines of youth football games, Ralph Perdrix coached his last home game Sunday night. He plans to see his team through the season and the playoffs, but will retire afterward. He's impacted decades of young players' lives, many of whom gathered Sunday to wish him well.
"I think what makes him special, you'll see today," said Jess Perdrix, Ralph's nephew. "I think we're going to have a pretty big crowd out there. He treats everyone like they're family. Everyone that's played for him, they always come back. They always come to games."
The longtime coach of the Golden Bears, a football team in the Greater Cincinnati Catholic youth league, saw his team lock down a win before celebrating with families and alumni who grew up under Ralph's coaching. Over the last 43 years, he's coached thousands of kids as a volunteer, with no paycheck.
"It's always about the kids," said Ralph. "The kids and the parents and the family and what we've got going on here today. It's that. It's seeing boys turn into men, basically."
He's coached a number of local players who went on to star in high school, college and even the NFL, the biggest name to come from Ralph's tutelage being Luke Kuechly, who went on to play with the Carolina Panthers.
Recently, he's coached the Golden Bears, the seventh- and eighth-grade team for St. Michael in Sharonville, St. Gabriel in Glendale, Mother Theresa in Liberty Twp. and St. John the 23rd in Middletown.
"He definitely has a way with people and really kind of bringing them in and making them feel special," said Jess. "He looks after these kids like they're his own."
Jess is set to take the torch from his uncle and will resume coaching duties of the Golden Bears next year. He said he's excited to try and continue to build on his uncle's legacy with the team.
Meanwhile, Ralph said he's got plans to head for warmer weather and will move down to Florida to enjoy his retirement.