Bulldogs family remembers the legacy of mentor and leader Coach Theo Cribbs Jr.

Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 9:16 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A beloved Wichita coach, mentor and friend was remembered for impacting and inspiring generations of lives. Family and friends gathered for a memorial balloon release Saturday afternoon.

Theo Cribbs Jr. was instrumental in creating the Bulldogs youth football organization and serving the kids in Wichita’s African American community with a place to play.

He died last weekend at the age of 84.

Taking to the field Coach Cribbs created, his family paid respects to its patriarch.

“If you look to the left, you look to the right; that’s your Bulldog family. That’s Theo’s family,” said friend and coach Kalvin Hill.

It’s decades’ worth of a legacy. It’s one Kalvin Hill saw as a kid when Coach Cribbs was his football coach.

Hill said, “Theo was just that type of man. He was a helper. He was a teacher. He was a mentor. He mentored me, and that’s why I started coaching. I’ve coached now for over 35 years.”

He came back to help coach when he was in his 20s, but it wasn’t just the game Coach Cribbs cared about; it was the lives of those involved.

“Cheerleaders, football players, baseball players, basketball players, he wanted to see them not just succeed on this football field, but he wanted to see them succeed in life,” Hill said. “That’s the biggest legacy. What he done literally changed lives.”

Hill’s son, KJ, part of that legacy by watching Coach Cribbs’s leadership and motivation as a kid playing football and using it now as a coach. The most important lesson he said he learned from Coach Cribbs is discipline.

“He was a giver and a lover; he was going to pick you up when you’re down; he’s not going to make you feel bad if you make a mistake. Definitely the discipline.” Kalvin ‘KJ’ Hill Jr. said, “The discipline part of it I try to instill.”

For many, Coach Cribbs was a father figure who helped raise them, and it’s in their lives that Coach Cribbs lives on.

“He showed what a man should be. Someone who needs to go out there and become something special and good to the community,” said Ray Mathenia.

Hill said, “If you were a kid, if you were a teen, if you were just out here looking for something better. Looking for something right. Like the good book says, Jesus wants us all to do better and be better. Theo wants us all and wanted us all to do better, be better men, be better gentlemen, be better husbands, be better teachers, work with our community and even more so now.”

Not just athletes and people, Kalvin Hill said, Wichita is a better place because of all Coach Cribbs did and created.