Hispanic Heritage Month, Dedicated to Les “Coach” Fernandez

Les "Coach" Fernandez inspired LatinBusinessToday, and many others before us.

Dr. Leslie Fernandez ("Coach") amassed an incredible legacy and our mission to Inform, Inspire, Mentor & Empower. This is his story:

Coach Fernandez circa 1982

“Don’t shoot! That’s Coach’s son!”

That shout-out saved Richard Fernandez from injury, possibly even death. In the sometimes violent world inhabited by some Westchester, New York toughs, no one messed with “Coach” Leslie Fernandez – or with his police-officer son.

The reason wasn’t fear. No one feared the Coach. It was something considerably more powerful: love. If those young toughs ever loved any man, that man was Coach Fernandez.

LatinBusinessToday.com is dedicated to the memory of “Coach” Leslie Fernandez, a beloved educator remembered by many as the person who most influenced, and in some cases,  transformed, their lives. Even for those who remained resistant and tough, and more outside the law than within it, Coach Fernandez’s deeply felt caring remained a meaningful experience.

While Leslie Fernandez had the prestige and position of being a teacher and head of their alternative high school, some of his former students might have been surprised to know the back story. It explains Coach’s powerful combination of deep, compassionate understanding and strength.

Born in 1927 in New York City, “Coach” Leslie Fernandez enjoyed an important gift in his life, and endured a significant cross.

The gift, an enduring one, was Fernandez’s parents’ unconditional love. No matter what he did or didn’t do, Coach always knew that Chelsie and Leslie Fernandez Sr. loved him.

But the cross, a harsh one at the time, likewise had an enduring impact. Fernandez was assessed as so academically inadequate,  and particularly lacking in any language talent, that the only way he was able to get a high school diploma was by switching to a vocational high school. Fernandez’s self assessment about that period in his life is blunt:  “I was a loser.”

Once free of school, Fernandez enlisted in the Army, which sent him to West Germany. The youth assessed as totally lacking in language-learning capabilities learned to speak German within a year. His follow-up assignment was as a command staff German language translator.

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About the author

Nona Aguilar

Nona Aguilar is an award-winning journalist specializing in family health. In addition to articles that have appeared in major women’s magazines, she has written three books, including The New No-Pill, No-Risk Birth Control on natural family planning.