A memorial tribute to former Winslow football coaching legend Emil Nasser

FORT DEFIANCE

Emil Nasser was one of the greatest high school football coaches in the state of Arizona. The legendary coach guided the Winslow Bulldogs to three state championships in 1948, 1949, and 1964. He coached at Winslow from 1947 to 1983.

Nasser-coached teams won more than 300 games and countless conference championships.

Nasser came out of retirement and coached Joseph City High School to state championships in 1999 and 2002. He coached Joseph City to state runner-up in 2001.

A couple of weeks ago, Nasser died on his 95th birthday in Flagstaff. He was buried in Phoenix with full military honors.

“Coach Nasser never lost his love for the sport,” said Loy Engelhardt, a longtime play-by-play radio announcer and general manager for KINO in Winslow. “He enjoyed the game to the end and attended games when he could. A year ago when Winslow was one of the teams that played on opening day, when they played three or four games in the Dome at Northern Arizona University, he was on hands for the Dogs’ game and held court on the East side of the Dome, upper level, looking down on the game.”

Winslow Bulldogs head baseball coach Art Griffith played for Nasser. Griffith was the starting center on Winslow-coached Nasser’s 1964 state championship football team.
After completing college, Griffith returned to Winslow. Griffith coached with Nasser from 1969 to 1983.

“He was a great role model for all of us in many areas in town and at school,” Griffith said. “We refereed basketball games together and he taught swimming lessons for 36 years in Winslow as well.”

Griffith said Nasser was a disciplinarian, had organizational skills, preached sportsmanship to team members, had love for all sports and was focused on education at all times.

“He coached Medal of Honor recipient Jay Vargas, a 9th Circuit Appeals Court Judge, numerous lawyers, teachers, doctors and most of all good role models and productive citizens in their respective communities.”

“Winslow has lost a lot of good people recently and most them were good friends of mine,” said Sam Conner, longtime journalist and former educator, coach, and official.

“The most notable of those passing recently was coach Emil Nasser,” Conner said. “He coached the Bulldogs for the better part of half century and was one of the most winning and best coaches in the state. He was a good friend and it was my pleasure to coach the freshman team under him for a number of years.”

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Categories: Football