The world of high school football lost a true legend last week when Robert "Chick" Embrey, a revered coach at Escondido High School, passed away at 96. While his physical presence may have left us, his legacy and impact on the lives of countless individuals remain indelible.
Embrey's remarkable journey began in 1956 when he took the helm as the head football coach at Escondido High School. Over 22 years, he etched his name in the annals of high school football history, winning 11 league titles and three San Diego Section championships. His career record of 144-66-3 reflected a remarkable winning percentage of .682. Beyond the football field, Embrey also dedicated a decade to coaching track and field at Escondido High School, retiring as a teacher in 1988.
Chick Embrey's connection to Escondido ran deep, as his family had relocated from Oklahoma to this vibrant California community when he was ten. At Escondido High School, he made his mark as a young athlete, starring as the quarterback. Embrey's athletic prowess was evident as he achieved the impressive feat of being a 1,000-yard rusher, and he earned All-Southern California honors by the Helms Athletic Foundation during his senior year in 1945, a time when the CIF San Diego Section had yet to be established. His leadership qualities were recognized, as he served as the ASB President during high school.
The path that led Chick Embrey to coaching was an extraordinary one. After serving in the Navy at the end of World War II, he returned to his roots, playing football at both Fullerton College and San Diego State. These experiences laid the foundation for his illustrious coaching career, which he began at his alma mater, Escondido High School.
Many individuals have been touched by the wisdom and mentorship of Chick Embrey throughout his career. One such individual is Rob Gilster, who retired as a football coach at Valley Center High School last season after 31 seasons as a head coach. Reflecting on his relationship with Coach Embrey, Gilster shared, "He was supportive, loved me, and pointed me in the right direction. He took the time to show concern for people, whether those people were players, coaches, students, or the guy walking down the street. I feel blessed because he cared for me."
Inseparable from his dedication to coaching was his enduring love for his family. Chick Embrey was preceded in death by Ann, his wife of 72 years. Our deepest condolences go out to his entire family, friends, and all who had the privilege of knowing him.
As we bid farewell to this football icon, we also celebrate the legacy he leaves behind—a legacy marked by championship victories, unwavering support, and a commitment to improving the lives he touched. Chick Embrey's name will forever be synonymous with excellence in high school football, and his memory will continue to inspire generations of athletes and coaches.