The wait ended yesterday for Bob Greene and Baltimore County.
Greene, Milford Mill High's first-year head football coach, held his first practice yesterday, the opener for most schools in the Baltimore area.
Greene, 50, has spent the past 12 years as an assistant coach. His hiring is a milestone of sorts for Baltimore County. He becomes the second black varsity head coach in a county that last year celebrated its 25th season of football.
Joe Yates, who coached at Parkville during 1972-81, was the only other black head football coach in Baltimore County.
Greene doesn't make an issue of the milestone, but he also does not take it lightly.
"This gives me an opportunity to save some of our young men," he said. "I was hired by McDonogh [as an assistant], but I opted for this job, because it gives me an opportunity to come in and do positive things."
Ron Belinko, the Baltimore County coordinator for physical education and athletics, hailed the hiring of Greene and called him a role model.
"It's a very positive step," said Belinko. "There isn't any question the segment of our African-American students need role models just like all our other youngsters. Any time we have an opportunity to get a qualified black applicant to be a positive role model, we will take that step."
Jesse Hannon, the Milford Mill athletic director, who hired Greene, says race was not the primary reason for choosing Greene, but Hannon acknowledged that it may have played a small part in hiring a coach for a team that usually is predominantly black.
"When you look for role models and you have a football team that is 98 or 99 percent black, having a black head coach certainly makes a difference," said Hannon. "That's not to say that Milford Mill athletes have trouble responding to white coaches, but I think some consideration had to be given. But after all things are considered, I figured he had to be the best man. He has the credentials, the enthusiasm and the motivation.
"I was looking for someone who wanted to be committed to bringing a good team and working with the youngsters. Bob lives in the community and was willing to do that."
Greene also is the only Baltimore County varsity football head coach who is not a member of the county's school staff. Last year, the county relaxed its requirement for coaches. Previously, all coaches had to be members of the county school staff or have degrees in education. Greene is the sports director for WYST radio.
Greene, who lives in Randallstown, began his coaching career at Friends, where he spent 1980-88 as the co-head coach for a team that played a junior-varsity schedule. Greene left Friends in 1988 and spent the next three years at John Carroll as the varsity defensive coordinator.
Greene, an avid weight-lifter, brings to Milford Mill a reputation as a strong supporter of conditioning, weight training and discipline.
"All of the schools I've been at, I've instituted the weight program," he said. "I think it cuts down on injuries and gives the kids self-confidence."
If yesterday's strong turnout is any indication, Greene is off to a good start. Forty players participated in the morning practice.
"This is the most we've had in my nine years here," said Chuck Weitz, last year's head coach, who is working with Greene as an assistant this year.
About 15 players are back from last year's team, which went 4-6, marking the first time since 1982 that Milford Mill hasn't had a winning season. Milford Mill was the Baltimore area's winningest team in the 1980s under John Buchheister, who left after the 1989 season to coach at Randallstown.
So far, the veterans seem impressed with Greene.
"I like the way he pushes us," said junior running back Jeff Carroll. "He said he wanted us to give 150 percent. We need the extra push."
Said senior linebacker Brian Campbell: "We'll win some games. He has a winning attitude."