Mr.West was truly an inspiration to me as a youth during my college days and later as I began coaching. He not only came to visit me while I laid dying in the hospital but later after long and amazing recovery I had the opportunity to be coached again by Mr. West.
He attended my wedding. We remained friends until he moved away after retirement. I tried to find his address. Nanuet school officals would not release his address accordiing to the privacy act?
It took us over 15 easr but some alumni were able to secure his telephone number.
My brother Pete Patrikis, myself and Ed Mooney all gave him a call and asked if he would accept a nomination to be inducted into the Nanuet Schools Hall of Fame. He seemed delighted as we talked for at least an hour. Of course he said yes!
I, Pete and Ed, my brother were going to fly out to where he lived during the summer and just walk up and knock on his door and say HI!
Well, with being involved in so much soccer, we all decided to wait until the end of the high school soccer season.
A poor decision on our part. We never thought or knew how sick he was. We would have dropped everything and flew out to Arizona to visit him one last time.
We feel he has left a mark on how we handle players and coach the players and the team. He was truly a man we admired and postured ourselves after.
With all of our love to Coach West!
Bobby & Eddie Walkley
By Roderick Boone
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original Publication: October 14, 2007)
Bob Walkley still can remember the days former Nanuet boys soccer coach Bob West would come and visit him as he lay in the hospital following a frightening experience after simple knee surgery.
"When I was 16," the Suffern coach said, "I was in a coma and my heart stopped (during surgery). When I came around five days later, he came for three weeks straight to visit and talk to me for 20 minutes a day."
That, if nothing else, speaks to the type of person West was. West, who moved to Marana, Ariz., several years ago, died Oct. 5 after battling pneumonia and diabetes.
The first African-American coach at Nanuet, West started a boys soccer program there by getting the junior-varsity program off the ground in 1964. A year later, he started the varsity team and proceeded to lead the Golden Knights to a Rockland County co-championship in 1967.
West guided the boys team up until 1975 and then started the girls program, coaching the team to a Section 9 championship in 1982 and a regional title a season later.
Current Nanuet boys soccer coach Peter Patrikis played on the freshman baseball team under West, but it's the soccer knowledge West passed on to him that he still carries with him to this day.
"He was a major influence in my life in soccer," Patrikis said. "I try to imitate what he did."
Byram Hills coach Matt Allen had West as a physical-education teacher for three of his five years while at elementary school in Nanuet. He remembered West fondly after being told of the news.
"He was the happiest guy at his job -everything he did," Allen said. "He was nice and really sweet, always smiling. One of the things he was good at was teaching children about sports. He was really big into teaching."
That's not all Allen recalled about West. He never forgot West's attire.
"The jump suit and the silver whistle," Allen said. "He was one of those old-school guys where he wore his pants up a little high."
Just so West's name is carried on and never forgotten, Patrikis said friends have decided to rename the annual alumni soccer event the Robert West Alumni Memorial in his honor. Every year, Nanuet holds an alumni soccer game for the men and another for the women. This year's game will be held Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving weekend) at Nanuet High School.
The proceeds will help the school award a scholarship to a boys and girls soccer player each year.