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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 1 year ago

Former Winter Park football, baseball coach Harry Livengood passes away

Harry Livengood built a 29-year legacy of helping students grow up at Winter Park High School.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

There may not have been a more loyal coach than Harry Livengood of Winter Park High School. 

Just ask his former coaching partner — and student — Johnny Miller, who coaches Winter Park football today.

Winter Park lost a beloved figure in its sports history as former assistant football coach and head baseball coach Mr. Livengood died Wednesday, Nov. 1. He was 87.

Mr. Livengood left a mark on Winter Park High that stretched 29 years — working not only as a coach but also as a teacher at the school.

The U.S. Army vet and graduate of Wabash College first joined Winter Park High in 1971, serving as an assistant football coach during head coach Larry Gergley’s historic tenure. He helped lead the Wildcats to multiple metro, district and regional titles, and was a part of the staff that helped Gergley win 200 games — the first head coach to do so in Central Florida and the second in the state.

Mr. Livengood was inducted into the Winter Park High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

The coach is remembered for his positivity and ability to get players fired up to make a play, said Miller, who played as an offensive and defensive lineman with the class of 1975.

“I would consider Coach Livengood a player’s coach, which means he was very close to a lot of players and helped them not only in school but with problems at home and things like that,” Miller said. “Harry was just always a positive person. He never said anything negative to kids. … Whenever you were down, he was there to pat you on the back. Whenever you made a mistake he was there to say ‘Hey, you’ve got another play to go.’”

Mr. Livengood also pushed his players to succeed on the baseball diamond as the head coach. He built an overall record with the team of 85-31-1 and captured several district and regional championships.

It was a similar story of pushing students to be their best in the classroom, as Mr. Livengood taught marketing and DECA — a class where students could learn how to work and how to get a job all while earning credit toward their high-school diploma.

Ronnie Moore, Winter Park’s assistant director for Parks and Recreation, attended that class while playing as a defensive end and offensive guard on the football team.

“(I had a) single mom,” Moore said. “(The class) got me in the job world and gave me a part-time job during the school year where I could help out at home. Coach Livengood was kind of a father figure to me. He coached the defensive line and he also took me under his wing.”

Miller attended Mr. Livengood’s class as well and has since enjoyed a successful career with the city of Winter Park running special events.

He also had the chance to coach alongside Mr. Livengood from 1980 up until his mentor’s retirement in 2000.

“He was one of the people that taught me and would be a mentor of mine,” Miller said. “He taught me how to deal with kids and to give to the kid, because a lot of times coaches are the kid’s only parent, only dad or only adult. (I learned) to accept that role and be a role model for the kids.”

When looking over Mr. Livengood’s 29-year legacy at Winter Park High School, another word comes to mind: loyalty, Miller said.

“He committed to do something for 29 years,” Miller said. “That’s teaching and coaching at a high-school environment for 29 years — to be loyal to a head coach, to be loyal to a school. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

“That’s what we try to teach people — commit to what you’re committed to and give it everything you’ve got,” he said. “He’s a person that touched the lives of a lot of kids. A lot of people will miss Harry. We’ll miss coach.”

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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