For two decades, 59-year-old Cliff Haskins was a fixture on the high school football sidelines throughout Prince George’s County. He spent 14 years as the head football coach at Oxon Hill High School and most recently spent six years as an assistant at Flowers High School in Springdale.
While those who knew him say winning was always important to coach Haskins, and many of his teams did win, his goal was to groom young men.
“The leadership he taught me, always stand up for everyone,” said Flowers quarterback Thomas Lawrence. “During practice he always told me to be a leader no matter where you were are on or off the field.”
But football was Haskin’s second career. His son said he spent 21 years cleaning up the streets of D.C. as a Metropolitan Police Department detective. After retiring, he used that experience from the force to mentor children. Along with coaching, he became a security officer at Flowers, and principal Helena Nobles-Jones
said it didn’t take long for Haskins to make his mark.
"Right now, when I’m walking and the kids on the rail [above the hallway], they see me coming and they jump back because they know they shouldn’t be on there anymore,” said Nobles-Jones. “Because of Cliff.”
As tough as he was, Nobles-Jones said the kids always confided in him. It was his positive outlook that made students believe no matter what their situation, with hard work the sky was the limit.
“You wouldn’t think he was a retired policeman,” said Nobles-Jones. “You would think he was a minister, or a social worker, or a personal worker, or a psychologist. He was all those things all rolled into one, providing security for the building.”
Haskins died Tuesday night when he suffered a heart attack driving to work and crashed his SUV into a guard rail on Indian Head Highway.
“It’s pretty tough right now,” said Flowers head coach Michael Mayo
. “I’ve known Cliff for a while and Cliff was a big part of building this county to what it is in football.”
His son told NBC4 Haskins had no prior health problems. That news added to the shock for the coaches and players he touched over the years. But his football family at Flowers, where formers players come back and work out say even in death he taught everyone a lesson.
“You never know when the end of your life going to be,” said former player Joseph Medley. “You gotta live everyday like it’s your last. It’s not just all about fun but do what you have to do, and making sure your legacy is continued when you’re gone.”
Flowers is dedicating the upcoming football season to Haskins.