Some people are born to coach. Others are born to contribute behind the scenes. Tennessee State University’s Howard Gentry was one of those rare people born to do both. The son of an ex-slave, Gentry valued the importance of hard work and a good education. An All-American football tackle at Florida A & M University, Gentry’s association with TSU began in 1948, when he was coaching football at Wilberforce State University. It was there that Gentry caught the eye of TSU’s head football coach, Henry A. Kean, who hired him as head line coach starting in 1949. After Kean became athletic director in 1955, Gentry was named head football coach. His undefeated 1956 team captured the Black National Championship and Gentry was selected as Coach of the Year. But his career in athletics was just warming up. In 1961, after six years as head football coach and a solid record of 42-10-1, Gentry became athletic director, a title he held until he retired in 1976. TSU athletics enjoyed a golden era of progress during his tenure, which included a post-season football bowl game against an NCAA-affiliated team and UPI college championships in 1961 and 1962 for men’s basketball. And of course, the famous Tigerbelle women’s track team continued their domination of the sport. Howard C. Gentry passed away in 1995, but the proud legacy he left TSU and the state of Tennessee will live on forever.