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Abilene park rededicated for local legacy Coach James Valentine - FlagSpin

Abilene park rededicated for local legacy Coach James Valentine

The park was originally named after Gen. Robert E. Lee, but has been renamed in honor of a beloved Abilene coach.

ABILENE, Texas — A crowd gathered in Abilene Friday morning to rededicate Lee Park in honor of a local legacy.

The park on Pioneer Drive was initially named after Gen. Robert E. Lee Elementary School, according to the City of Abilene. The school was renamed Stafford Elementary in 2021.

The former Lee Park is now named after Coach James E. Valentine, an Abilene legacy affectionately known as “Coach Val” by most people.

After being discharged as a World War II US Army veteran in 1945, Valentine attended Wiley College where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and biology in 1952. He returned home to Gonzales where he coached the football team and taught at Edwards High School. Outside of school he worked to teach other veterans.

In 1956, he moved his family to Abilene to begin teaching and coaching at Woodson High School. He was an accomplished coach in football and track, and led his teams to the playoffs including the district championship in District 1AA Negro High School Division in 1958.

Valentine continued at Woodson until the school closed in 1968, after which he moved to teach and coach at Jefferson Middle School, and also coached youth flag football outside of school.

Another notable legacy – from 1956 to 1979 – Valentine was the manager of the only public City pool, Stevenson Pool, and worked to teach children in the community how to swim.

“We are honored to commemorate Coach James E. Valentine and the huge influence he has had on Abilene as a whole, the local African-American community, and the communities within the neighborhoods he served,” the City of Abilene said.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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