Belt Honored with First Belichick Award

The Capital | Feb. 14, 2006
by Bill Wagner

Steve Belichick and George Belt share a bond. Both men dedicated their lives to teaching and coaching youngsters.

Belichick did his work on a college football field. Belt does his at an Annapolis recreation center.

Belichick and Belt preferred to work behind the scenes with little fanfare.

Belichick probably would be embarrassed to have an award named after him. Belt is sheepish about receiving any type of tribute.

Both men will be honored Thursday night at the 52nd annual Touchdown Club of Annapolis football awards banquet.

Touchdown Club president Rick Dion will announce the establishment of the Steve Belichick Coaches’ Award, which will perpetuate the memory of the longtime Navy assistant who died this past fall.

Belt, recreation leader at the Stanton Community Center since 1980, will be the inaugural recipient.

Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, will be on hand to fete his father and recognize Belt on what figures to be an emotional night.

“Our family is very appreciative to the club for creating this award,” said Belichick, who has led New England to three Super Bowl championships.

Steve Belichick coached at the Naval Academy from 1956 to 1989 and the program posted 14 winning seasons during his tenure. It was a glorious era that saw the Midshipmen play in six bowl games and produce a pair of Heisman Trophy winners – Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino.

Staubach and Bellino were among those who praised the 86-year-old Belichick following his death of heart failure on Nov. 20. Staubach, who grew quite fond of the gruff assistant during his days at the academy, called Belichick “our rock, our integrity.”

Belichick served loyally under seven head coaches at Navy and was best known for his expertise as an advance scout.

“On Monday nights, Steve would give us his scouting reports, and even though we were playing powerhouses, I always felt we were prepared because he found a way for us to win,” Bellino told the Boston Globe.

In 1963, the elder Belichick wrote a book about his work titled “Football Scouting Methods.” He was also known as a knowledgeable special teams coach who developed several outstanding punters during his time at the academy.

“My father was always just part of the team. He willingly accepted whatever responsibility he was given, whether it was coaching the linebackers or the junior varsity,” Bill Belichick said.

The younger Belichick credits much of his success in coaching to the teachings of his father. He learned how to break down film at the age of 9 and picked up many other nuances by attending Navy practices as a teenager.

It was on brisk fall afternoons at the academy that Belichick saw his father chew out a player during practice then put his arm around that same player and counsel him afterward.

“I think the best way to describe my father was tough but fair,” Belichick said. “He was demanding, he was hard-nosed and didn't cut anybody any slack. But he was also good-hearted, kind and caring.”

Bill Belichick admits he learned more about his father after hearing from numerous Navy football players following his death.

“His ability to teach and interact with people has really come back to me in my lifetime, particularly in the last few days,” Belichick said while giving the eulogy for his father at the Naval Academy Chapel.

Interestingly, the Belt and Belichick families have a connection. George Belt Sr., served a 48-year tenure with the Naval Academy Athletic Association and knew Steve Belichick quite well.

George Belt Jr. grew up playing baseball and football around Annapolis for such organizations as Knights of Columbus, Mount Mariah and St. Mary’s. He graduated from Annapolis High in 1969 and wound up earning a Master’s Degree in advertising and graphic design from Morgan State University.

Belt initially headed to New York City to work in the corporate world, but was pulled back to Annapolis and soon found himself at the Stanton Community Center, located in one of the city's roughest neighborhoods.

“The Lord gave me a calling. I was brought to this community for a reason,” Belt said.

Belt has served as a mentor and protector for people of all ages during his 26-year tenure as recreation leader at the Stanton Center. He uses athletics to draw youngsters into the sanctuary then uses academics and prayer to enrich their lives.

“Sports are the tool we use to get the kids inside so that we can work with them,” he said.

Belt has established numerous athletic leagues and programs designed to keep disadvantaged youths off the streets. He directs a “Homework and Tutoring Club” every afternoon and runs a “Friday Night Out” program that exposes kids to movies, plays and sporting events.

All the while, Belt has maintained that connection with the Naval Academy that was passed down from his father. He brings midshipmen to the Stanton Center to tutor students and routinely spends his own money to take youngsters to Navy football and basketball games.

“My father always spoke very highly of Steve Belichick so it gives me great pride to get an award named after the man,” Belt said. “This award is a total surprise, but it is one I will cherish for a long time. I appreciate the support of the Touchdown club, I truly do.”

Belt, 54, serves as associate pastor and principal of the International House of Prayer school and church in Harwood. He and wife Charlene, who works behind the scenes on Stanton Center projects, reside in Eastport.

© 2006 The Capital

Laura London