The guiding light of Imhotep Charter’s successful football team, Albie Crosby, has stepped down as head coach.
“It’s not like I’m stepping away for anything crazy,” Crosby, 46, said. “I’m just trying to get some stability right now.”
Crosby led the Panthers to a 15-0 record and the PIAA Class AAA state football championship last season, becoming the first Philadelphia Public League school to win a state football title. He was named AAA Coach of the Year by the Pennsylvania football writers.
But in the midst of all the spoils, Crosby faced a blitz of tragedies off the gridiron.
His football coach and mentor Frank McNally passed away last year, followed by his grandmother, who lived with him for the last 15 years.
“She was one of the most important people ever in my life,” Crosby said.
Then his cousin was murdered while breaking up a fight. Weeks later, cancer claimed the lives of his stepfather and close friend, former Neumann Goretti head football coach, Steve Smith.
In March, one of his former players was murdered and this past month, another former player was shot while hopping on a SEPTA bus.
“It makes you step back and think of things,” Crosby said. “The game of football is important. But there are other things in life that are so, so important.”
The West Philly native said he plans on spending more time with his family. His mother has been in failing health since January. His 17-year-old daughter Lauren is a senior at W.B. Saul and will enroll at East Stroudsburg in the fall. Devin, 19, a former Imhotep football player, currently attends Shippensburg.
Crosby also plans on getting in better shape. The demands of his schedule left him relying on fast food and frequently skipping meals until 11 p.m. As for exercise, forget it.
Since then, in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle, he has eliminated a lot of sugars, drank more water and added more fruits and vegetables to his diet.
“I’ve always been in a position of neglecting things,” Crosby said. “But I’m getting a little bit older so I have to take care of myself so I can be around for a long time.”
In four seasons at Imhotep, Crosby posted a 53-6 record.
“I have had great coaches with me as well as dedicated kids and a tremendous support staff of administration and the families,” Crosby said. “It’s a collective group effort to help our young people live their dreams.”
He produced 20-plus Division I recruits including South Carolina running back David Williams, Arizona State defensive back Deandre Scott and senior tight end Naseir Upshur, who is bound for Florida State.
“He’s like a father figure,” Upshur said. “He was there for me through all of my toughest problems that people don’t know about.”
Crosby says he doesn’t know how long he will be out, but that he hopes to be back on the field sooner rather than later.
Imhotep Athletic Director Andre Noble has announced that a search for Crosby’s replacement is underway. Assistant Mark Schmidt, a previous head coach at Neshaminy and La Salle High, will serve as interim coach during the search.