Every high school has one, and just one: A football coach so inspirational, passionate and influential that his legacy and the school's legacy become one. At North High, that guy was Jordan "Turk" Eliades, the legendary coach who died Dec. 15, days short of his 94th birthday.
“The whole school’s history is wrapped around Turk Eliades," said Jack O’Brien, who was an assistant coach on Eliades’ staff for 15 seasons. "Everyone around Turk benefited and came out a better person. ...
“He took a bunch of Oildale kids and made them believers, not only on the football field but in the classroom. He was a tremendous math teacher. This community will really miss him.”
Eliades joined the North faculty as a math teacher and varsity football head coach when the school opened in 1953. He was there 32 years before retiring in 1985.
“He’s one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. I’m really sad he’s gone,” said recently retired Bakersfield police chief Greg Williamson, who played two seasons for Eliades before graduating in 1982.
North High’s football stadium was renamed Eliades Field in his honor, and the coach was inducted into the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Karen Langston, a 1984 North graduate, took two math classes from Eliades. She’s now an associate athletics director at Cal State Bakersfield and was the first chairperson for North’s Hall of Fame.
“Most people who had him in class loved him as a teacher,” Langston said. “Most people talk about him as a legendary coach. But they don’t realize his impact in the classroom. He had such a memorable style as a teacher. He taught like he coached. He was so animated and enthusiastic in the classroom. I could tell you 100 classroom experiences.”