Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bernis "Peaches" Hoskin---Education First and Sports Last

The theme for 2017 Black History Month is The Crisis in Black Education which focuses on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. Lack of or poorly funded education has affected African Americans for years before and after slavery was abolished. Its affects continue to affect the economic status of African American families. Sitting in the Winston County Library with big crocodile tears, Bernis "Peaches" Hoskin talked about how he felt when as a child he discovered that his grandfather could not read nor write. He saw his grandfather sign a document with an ‘X’ and became determined to become an educated man.

Today, Peaches is an educated man who does not have to sign his name with an ‘X’. He attended Louisville Colored High School for 3 years and played basketball and football as a Trojan before moving to Rock Island, IL to graduate from Rock Island High School in 1967. After High School, some of Peaches’ education was funded from basketball scholarships but most was funded from employment. Peaches stated that he was taught basketball by Coach Ed Nunnery in high school and football by Coach Walterdale Baker, Coach Harold Hudson and Coach M. C. Taylor.

 He gives credit to Coach Walterdale Baker for encouraging him to further his education by attending college. Peaches received a scholarship from Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena, MS. and one from Arkansas A. M. & N., Pine Bluff, AR. However, Peaches enrolled in Lea College, Albert Lea, MN. Coach Baker became his mentor throughout his high school and college life. He speaks with nothing but admiration for Coach Baker.

Peaches was an excellent basketball player at all of the colleges he attended. He started as a 6'6" forward with the Lancers at Lea College, where he bent the basket and shattered the glass backboard unintentionally in pre-game warm-ups when dunking a ball. It took 45 minutes for Lea College students and others to replace the backboard. Peaches was the leading scorer with 28 points in that game, which went into double overtime with Wartburg College, of Waverly, IA. Wartburg lost the game.

While playing at Whittier College, Whittier, CA, their team won the 14th Annual Chico Invitational Basketball Tournament with Peaches scoring 36 points. He graduated from Whittier in 1974 and one would think that his basketball career was over since he did not go to the NBA. Well, NO, Peaches continued to keep in shape, play and coach while employed as a teacher and later as a probation/parole officer for 30 years in Los Angeles County. In 2004, Peaches was selected to play with the Masters Basketball Association (MBA) - Whittier College Team 55 years +. The MBA - offers highly competitive full-court basketball for Men ages 40+ to 75+ and Women 30+. 

 The Whittier College MBA team won the championship in 2012 and 2014. They won 2nd place in 2013 and traveled to London, England to play in 2009. The 33rd National Masters Championships tournament will be held May 8-13, 2017 in Coral Springs, FL. Peaches is practicing and conditioning at MSU with plans to be in that tournament.

He is quick to say to the many young people that he mentored and to his four children, “Education first, Sports second”. He is a role model and has been successful in both areas. Since the day when he saw his grandfather sign his name with an ‘X’, Peaches has pursued higher education. Peaches received his Associate of Arts, and Recreation Degree, Compton College, Compton, CA; his Bachelor of Art, Physical Education Sociology Degree, Whittier College, Whittier, CA; his Master Degree, Public Administration, Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, CA. Peaches also received a Certificate of Completion, Handicapped. Through blood sweat and tears, he acquired the education that his grandfather could not. Peaches stated that he has four children and they are well educated productive citizens that his grandfather would be proud of.

Peaches let those crocodile tears roll again when he talked about two instances in which he was denied the opportunity to break a record at Rock Island High School and Whittier College. When he was a few points near breaking the record of two white players, he was benched. At Rock Island High School, the record was set by Don Nelson (once coach of Milwaukee Bucks) at 31 rebounds. Peaches reached 29 rebounds and was benched with 3 minutes left in game. At Whittier College, the record was set at 41 points. Peaches said he was benched when he reached 37 points. He still feels sad when remembering these experiences but proud that he did not allow, what he called, ‘acts of racial discrimination’ to stand in his way of attaining other goals.

Peaches’ career in education includes 13 years as a Physical Education instructor in which he
provided adapted physical education services to adults with disabilities or other disabling conditions. He later became a Probation/Parole Officers for juvenile delinquents for over 30 years in the Los Angeles Probation Department - retiring from that position March 2007. Peaches proudly displayed his Certificate of Retirement in his home which states, “He is a man of outstanding dedication and accomplishments, his personal integrity and commitment to the community, the department, and fellow staff members have been the hallmark of his career; He personifies professionalism and leadership, and has served with a high degree of dignity, responsibility and civic pride:”

After retirement, Peaches moved back to his hometown of Louisville, MS. He remodeled his mother’s home in the Shiloh Community and has become content living there. Being an athlete who loves to play as well as coach, he became the football coach for the 11 – 12 year old Winston County Chiefs. He led them to the 2012 Northwest Division Championship on October 27, 2012 which was played at the R. E. Hinze Football Field, Louisville, MS.

Peaches is considered a hero in his hometown to the coaching staff of the former Louisville Colored High School and schoolmates. When asked about his vision for the future, he stated, “I want to travel to Cuba, Australia, some European countries, continue to play in the MBA and do more remodeling to my mother’s home.” Peaches is the son of Mrs. Odessa Riddle-Hoskin and grandson of Dan and Ida Riddle. His only sibling was Eddie Ruth Riddle who passed March 2015. Peaches was exhilarated to be interviewed for this story during Black History Month.

Submitted by: Elmetra Patterson