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COMMENTS | Legendary coach impacted thousands
By JOSH MORTON
A mother and son are walking along the shore and they notice thousands of starfish have beached themselves. The mother randomly picks up one of the dying creatures and chucks it back in the ocean. The son says, “Mom, you can’t save them all. What difference will that make?” The mother responds “It made a difference to that one.”
Elton Goodwin picked up countless numbers of “starfish” in his life. His impact on the Port Orchard community stretches to thousands and thousands of people. While famous for his three state championships and countless league championships for the South Kitsap High School baseball program, it’s his connection with people on and off the field that will keep his spirit alive forever. If we are truly six degrees of separation from knowing everyone in the world, Port Orchard is only one degree away from Elton.
When I covered my first SK game for the Port Orchard Independent in the spring of 1999, I chuckled at the sight of this big green monster of a truck called “The Beast” rolling down the hill toward the field with a pack of Wolves players. Out came this short and stout man donned in pinstripes with a huge grin on his face. The baseball field may have been his sanctuary, but I believe he was smiling because he never had to stop being a kid.
Coaching a kid’s game, and teaching in a kid’s world, Elton didn’t have to grow up. With his trusty sidekick (longtime assistant coach) Don Smith at his side, the duo got to hang out in the dugout among millions of used sunflower seeds and dried up spit and tell countless life and sports stories of the past and tirelessly teach life lessons to players that stretched way beyond the necessary fundamentals to succeed on and off the diamond.
I can still see him in the third base coach’s box barking at his team “let’s go men.” As we mourn the passing of a legendary coach, it’s important to remember the legacy he also left with his special education students and numerous colleagues in more than 30 years of teaching.
It takes one conversation with his twin boys Jeff and Joel to see the legacy he has left with them as well. The virtues, work ethic and love of life is just as strong in them and will carry on in their children and their children’s children after them.
The fragility of life sometimes kicks us in the rear. We have one shot to make our mark and help make this world a better place. And though this community has lost an incredible man, those of us who were blessed to know him will be forever grateful for having bettered ourselves because of him.
Josh Morton is a former sport editor at the Independent and is a teacher at Cedar Heights Junior High School.