Alfred “Zack” Priestley – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Xavier Prep/Xavier University
Alfred “Zack” Priestley was a legendary multi-sport coach at the high school and collegiate level in New Orleans.
Born September 29, 1900 in New Orleans, Priestly graduated from Xavier Prep in 1917 and attended Howard University. An All-American center for the Howard football team, he also played baseball and earned his architecture degree in 1924.
After graduation, he joined the faculty at Xavier Prep and soon took over the athletic department, coaching football, basketball, baseball and track for the next 20 years. He had many outstanding achievements, including directing his charges to football state titles in 1944 and 1945 and a high school basketball state championship in 1944.
In 1946, he moved onto Xavier University to coach the same four sports – football, baseball, basketball and track. He was honored as Catholic Coach of the Year in 1952 and his Xavier football and baseball teams regularly won honors in Southeastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. His Xavier track teams competed in numerous Penn and Drake Relays.
The New York Amsterdam News once wrote that he was famous for developing “outstanding blockers, line-stars, and shifty swivel-hipped backfield aces.” Many of his players went into great success, including Otis Washington and George Connor, who went onto legendary coaching careers – Washington is also a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
He coached at Xavier until 1959 when the school dropped its athletic programs. He remained on the faculty and coordinated the school’s intramural programs until his retirement in 1969. He died in 1997 at the age of 97.