Coach Keith Skinner taught his basketball and football players to play to win. But win or lose, he taught them to do it with grace.
Known as “Doc,” he graduated as a star athlete from Stranahan High in 1980 and then returned to coach the Mighty Dragons for the better part of three decades, making him one of three of Broward County’s longest-tenured and still active coaches. He was named assistant athletic director last year.
Coach Skinner, 54, died Oct. 31 from cancer.
“Stranahan, that was his love, I can’t stress that enough; that blue and orange, that was him,” said Skinner’s brother, Byron Skinner, 57, of Coral Springs. “The people there, the teachers there, along with my mom and father, really shaped him; he just adored that school.”
Skinner told the Sun Sentinel in 1993: “I am here because I want to give back to a program what I got out of it. It is like family here and rewarding to me to work with these kids.”
Rarely seen without sporting some sort of Stranahan gear, be it a ball cap, jacket or shirt, he was head coach for boy’s basketball and had been junior varsity coach for football. When it came to professional or college sports it “was anything Miami” that captured his loyalty — Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, the University of Miami Hurricanes. “Those were his teams,” his brother said. “But basketball was his first love as far as sports.”
Whether wagering on a golf game or playing a skilled hand of cards, Skinner’s competitive streak shone.
“You play to win; that’s what he taught his ballplayers as well,” Byron Skinner said. “You don’t take time off, we’re here to win and that’s my expectation.”
But he was far from a sore loser. “He could win with grace and lose with grace,” his brother said. “When he lost, he shook hands and said, ‘OK, I’ll get you next time.”
The tributes to Skinner’s positive force streamed onto Facebook.
- “He was the light of Stranahan.”
- “He was a great coach, mentor and father to some of us.”
- “There was no one a SHS that I respected more than Coach.”
Many of his students went on to become good friends, golf buddies and guests at his home. Scores of former students would come by the family restaurant, Skinner’s Grill on Sistrunk Boulevard, where they knew they could find him on weekends, to visit, seek advice, share successes, Byron Skinner said.
“As they got older and married, he knew their wives and their children, and they all called him Coach.”
A wake was scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Roy Mizell & Kurtz Funeral Home,1305 NW 6th St., Fort Lauderdale. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Community Church of God, 1300 NW 19th Court, Fort Lauderdale.
Skinner is survived by his wife, Sharon Skinner, children: Keith Skinner II, Bernard McCutcheon III, Brandon McCutcheon, Jasmine Thomas, Malayssia Skinner and six brothers and four sisters.