Rev. Dr. Clyde “Coach” Kaminska was last on campus for Homecoming and Alumni Weekend 2019, the year of his 90th birthday and the 70th anniversary of his 1949 graduation from Concordia. He was the star of the weekend and honoree of the annual Legends Luncheon, giving decades of alumni the chance to show their love and respect for a man whose iconic tenure shaped Concordia College and its students alike. As alumni in attendance gathered around, tributes to Dr. Kaminska and donations to the fund in his name came in from far and wide.
In his remarks to attendees that weekend, President John A. Nunes recounted an incident uncovered in a search of archived student newspapers from the 1968/1969 academic year.
President Nunes said: “That year there was excitement around the dedication of the new field house-gymnasium, and the very first home game played there! In that first game, Coach Kaminska’s Clippers trounced St. Pius X by a score of 104-68 in front of a full crowd. The score was much closer at the half – but that didn’t stop Coach K from emptying the bench – so that every man on the team could have the privilege of making history by playing the first game in the new gym.”
Dr. Kaminska’s dedication to putting students first was clear throughout a Concordia career of over two decades, and in all the roles he held: professor, coach, athletic director, and director of public relations and development. His legacy is evident on campus in the Scheele Memorial Library, the centerpiece of the College’s transition to a four-year institution, and in the way that his memory lives on in the many students whose lives he impacted.
News of his passing elicited heartfelt tributes: “A Concordia sports legend” “One of Concordia’s real heroes” “A servant of Christ who helped raise me” “Always remember that warm smile” “A true legend on Earth will now be one in heaven” “He was our Coach K!”
Walter J. Knox ‘79 shared an image of a yellowed newspaper clipping he had saved for over 40 years. It was an account of Coach K’s last game in February 1977. Knox said, “He didn’t talk much about it leading up to the game but all the players were aware it was his last, and many former players came back to pay their respects. His pre-game talk was business as usual. He focused on the seniors who were playing their last game: Joel Bahr, Bob Singleton, Paul Burke and John Daugherty. Then he held a vote. Earlier that week someone had stolen my only pair of white sneakers, so he asked the team to decide whether my powder blue ones were okay despite his strict rule about white sneakers. Thankfully they all voted yes. I thought then that even up to his last game he was holding us to the standards he had set. He was a funny man with a great sense of humor, a razor sharp mind and always quick with a comeback. Someone who would always engage in conversation with us. Caring, loving and genuine. Just a really good man.”
Gifts in Coach K’s honor can be made to the Dr. Clyde Kaminska Scholarship Fund at Concordia College New York (after clicking on the link, scroll down to the “Make your Gift in Memory of” option). You can also mail a check made payable to Concordia College New York and write Kaminska in the memo line. Mail to Lois Montorio, Concordia College New York, 171 White Plains Road, Bronxville, NY 10708. We will notify the Kaminska family of your tribute.