Andrew Trzaska | March 15, 2011
When new head coach of Muskegon Heights’ varsity football team came to Monday’s school board work session, winning games was not the main focus of the discussion.
It was instead focused the other values Tony Blankenship hoped to bring to the district’s rising program and the school system he will work for in the coming months.
Hired just over a month ago by the school district to replace the Hampton University-bound Willie Snead III, Blankenship’s move from his lifelong home of Detroit to Muskegon is seen as having purpose by the man himself.
“To the young people in this community whose lives I will be involved with in the next few years… I believe I am here for a reason. I have been prepared for this, to help create positive, helpful people in the community.
Blankenship’s on-the-field, off-the-field approach is something that attracted the selection committee to him as a candidate.
“Football is easy for me, I don’t know why. It’s a gift from God. The real work is to make it in life.”
Despite speaking deeply about off-the-field work, Blankenship did not want to diminish his desire for success on the field as well.
“I do want to win football games and I understand the community is hungry. I am in no way overly confident.”
Success is something that Blankenship has achieved before. He brings a long list of coaching and playing credentials to the program.
A former University of Michigan Wolverine, he played free safety from 1989 to 1993, and participated in multiple bowl games.
He was also head coach of the Detroit Demolition women’s football team, and won five league championships in the nine years he led the team.
He has also been head coach at Detroit Redford and Detroit Southwestern. While there he clinched one city championship, two playoff appearances and two division titles.
Blankenship also coached defensive backs and special teams at Wayne State plus coached his own school, Detroit Murray Wright, for five years.
District superintendent Dr. Dana Bryant emphasized that Blankenship brings value to the school district beyond extracurricular leadership. Blankenship has teaching qualifications and will serve as a physical education teacher at the high school.
Board President Avery Burrell spoke on behalf of the board, giving Blankenship their backing.
“We will support you in whatever you need to do.”