Being human, with all its frailties and accomplishments, is what John Youngblood would like to be remembered for.

He recently retired after 35 years in the Arlington school system, where he served as athletic director, teacher and football coach at Washington-Lee High School, and most recently, as supervisor of health and physical education for Arlington public schools. He is pictured by many who know him as a man with a magic wand and halos. But don't call him an angel.

"No, please don't call me an angel," he said, laughing. "I've had my good times and my rough times like anybody else. The most important thing, though, is to try to learn from your experiences. That's all I've tried to do all along."

But whether he likes it, those touched by him continue to speak of him as a guru.

"I've never met anyone you could talk to and feel the truth and goodness come out -- except John Youngblood," said Jerome Green, who played football for Youngblood at Washington-Lee. "He changed my life in many, many ways -- all positive."

Having become integrated, Washington-Lee was in the midst of many transitions when Green was a sophomore in 1963. He was filled with anger and rebellion. His first encounter with Youngblood came during a hallway brawl.

"He broke up the fight and took me aside," said Green. "He told me, 'If you're so tough, why don't you come out and play football?' I'd never played football before."

Two years later, Green became the first black cocaptain of the football team.

"He never showed any impartiality, whether you were white or black," said Green. "He treated everyone fairly."

Youngblood began his career at Washington-Lee in 1956 teaching physical education. Born in Shavertown, Pa., he received his bachelor's degree from East Stroudsburg State in 1952. He earned a masters in education from George Washington in 1967.

As the Generals head football coach for six years, he led the team to a 48-9-3 record that included three Northern Virginia championships and, in 1960, a state title. He received many more honors in administrative work, such as Virginia Athletic Director of the Year in 1975-76 and Virginia High School League Distinctive Service Award in 1977. He was inducted into the Arlington Sports Hall of Fame in 1977 and received the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association's Award of Merit in 1985, to name a few. But it was his teaching years he enjoyed most.

"The most satisfaction I ever received was from being a teacher and a coach," he said. "Nothing replaces having that opportunity to work with the students and make some significant contributions to their lives."

Youngblood, during his teaching years, probably affected hundreds and hundreds of lives. But, if you pressed him, he could name nearly all the students he worked with.

"He treated you like you were the only one important to him," said Bernie Swain, another of Youngblood's former football players. "And he had the ability to do that with thousands of people."

Youngblood was Swain's teacher and coach from 1960-63. Scholastically lacking, Swain didn't want to go to college. Youngblood changed that.

"He knew the people at George Washington," said Swain. "And he got them to take a chance on me. Without his guidance, I never would have gone."

Swain graduated and today is co-owner of the Washington Speakers Bureau, an agency that represents such notables as Art Buchwald, Joe Theismann, Lou Holtz and Peter Jennings.

"He {Youngblood} had the ability to be strict, and yet, incredibly open," continued Swain. "There are some coaches who are strict, but it takes you years to be able to appreciate them. No one needed years with Youngblood. You admired him right then.

"Plain and simple, the opportunities I've had then and now I would not have had if it were not for him."

Youngblood pays attention to details, things that show he's interested and cares, such as helping a stranger with his coat.

He doesn't speak loudly. His words come softly with the patience and knowledge of years. Once he begins, though, there's little doubt he enjoys talking and being around people, and one subject flows freely into the next. But it his love of young people that continually crops up.

"It's so important to improve the self-image of the young," he said. "I never believed in yelling at students in the classroom or on the field.

"That's not my style. Coaches who do that get athletes to perform out of fear. I believe it's so important to improve, not destroy, the student's self-image."

Youngblood paused momentarily, rubbed his eyes and continued. "The toughest thing I ever had to do was cut a squad. I always tried to increase the roster rather than cut someone. I know how badly the young men must have felt. But I would always meet individually with the a young man and discuss it.

"I know some coaches just stick a list up. That's cruel. That's cold. Think of how traumatic an experience that is for the young person and that someday they are going to become citizens of that or some other community. What type of feelings are they going to have for athletics?"

Feelings are important to Youngblood. And, according to those who worked with or learned from him, he never forgot that his kids, as he called them, were students first and athletes second.

Green told of a trip the football team made to Roanoke, Va. When the players arrived, they were told that the blacks would have to eat and sleep separate from the whites. Youngblood calmly said that they would return home before doing that. The team was allowed to remain together and the game was played.

"Even back then, he invited blacks into his house to eat with his family and play with his kids," said Green. "I could sit here all day and tell you the great things he's done with or for people."

Youngblood has won many awards and received many honors. His basement walls are covered with plaques and mementos of his achievements. He enjoys showing them off. And some of his students have also gone on to achieve fame. Jake Scott went to the Miami Dolphins and was the most valuable player in the 1972 Super Bowl. Tight end Eric Sievers went to the San Diego Chargers. But what Youngblood treasures most is talking about the achievements of those students who weren't gifted yet eventually made it.

"You have to treat kids differently. They're not all the same. It's not like turning a water faucet on and off. I got to know them. I studied their cumulative records. I can remember one year when we had eight starters who didn't have a father in the home -- eight."

It's of little surprise, then, that the term "father figure" pops up frequently when past students talk of Youngblood. And it's a sentiment that he relishes.

"It's common sense," he said. "It comes back to simply building the self-confidence of the student. We as coaches just have to be more flexible."

And his parting advice for coaches is simple:

"Never lose sight that our goal is to try to win with honor and have a good effect on the student athlete. Winning is an immediate, important objective in the game, but our ultimate objective is to promote the total growth and welfare of the students."

The Northern Virginia Athletic Directors, Coaches and Administrators Association presented $1,000 scholarships to the following student/athletes this year: Maureen McGrath, who played basketball and softball at Marshall, was the recipient of the Pat Bergen Memorial award; Mark Melia, a track star at Wakefield, was given the Jimmie Miller Memorial award; and George Sarris, who played football, basketball and ran track at Yorktown, was presented the John C. Youngblood award.