Alumni Profile

Carroll Blake, EHS ’68, Life-Long Track Star is Still Beating ‘Father Time’

At 71 most athletes have hung up their cleats and mothballed most of their sports equipment long ago — not Dr. Carroll Blake, EHS ’68.

Despite reaching the title of septuagenarian, Carroll still runs and wins titles in sprint events in track meets all over the world. How he does it at his age, he attributes mostly to “good genes.”

He runs 2-3 days a week to keep in shape and has a personal trainer who comes to his house. He admits to being “a junk food king” and loves big bowls of ice cream. “And I eat a glazed donut before every track meet. Gets sugar into my system.” Carroll got the track “bug” at English High—he was a star then.

Carroll’s family moved from Maryland to Roxbury in 1965 when he was 15 years old. Carroll had attended segregated schools in Maryland. Coming to English High School was the first time he saw white students and white teachers. “It was a real eye-opener. I was nervous.”

Not tall enough for basketball and not heavy enough for football, Carroll soon “fell into” his athletic calling at English on the track and cross-country teams. It was on the track team that Carroll made lifelong friends with Wayne Lucas and Dennis Wilson, all distance runners. This trio helped English win the city track championships for three years in a row.

Being on the team at English gave Carroll a continuing sense of camaraderie. “ I developed life-long connections. English was like a fraternity for me, like a brotherhood.”

Being on the team at English gave Carroll a continuing sense of camaraderie. “ I developed life-long connections. English was like a fraternity for me, like a brotherhood.”

1968 EHS Track Team. Blake is front row, 5 from left.

Wayne Lucas ‘68 remembers very well their relationship at English and for life. “We were teammates for three years on the cross-country, indoor and outdoor track teams. We were also friends outside of the school. We went to social functions together, and he and I double-dated for the prom. Carroll had his driver’s license and he had his father’s car for the evening. Carroll was one of the top half-milers in the state for two years.”

Carroll has very fond memories of English guidance counselor John O’Bryant. O’Bryant encouraged Carroll to set his sights higher and got him involved with Upward Bound, a federal program that helps students prepare for college. “He saved my life, I was just a country boy. He was a role model for young Black men.

Carroll graduated from Northeastern and then earned his MBA at Atlanta University.

At age 40 Carroll was working as an advertising executive in Chicago when the track “bug” bite him again. His company sponsored a corporate track team which he joined, and he has been running in multiple track meets sponsored by many organizations against runners in his age bracket all over the world ever since.

It hasn’t been all running though. Carroll earned a Ed.D in Educational Leadership from UMass and went on to have a distinguished career in education. He directed the METCO program in Lincoln for 17 years. He was an Assistant Principal in Wellesley, then Principal at the Dearborn Middle School in Boston. He was also Executive Director of the Achievement Gap department (now called the Opportunity Gap) in the Boston Public Schools. Not surprisingly he was also Commissioner of Track and Field for Boston schools. His wife Patricia Kelly was also a principal in Boston.

His wife travels with Carroll when he competes giving them the opportunity to visit countries around the world including Australia, Puerto Rico, Italy, Germany, and Finland just to name a few.

Carroll competes in the 200, 400, and 800 meter events. His titles and records are too numerous to list but the World Master’s Athletics Championship organization has ranked him in the top 5 runners in the US in his events and in the top 10 in the world for the last 20 years!

Over his long track career there are two particular races Carroll remembers. “I am most proud of the world record we set at Reggie Lewis at the National Masters Championship for the 4×400 relay. The other race that I’m excited about was the race that Wayne (Lucas) came and watched a few weeks ago at the Baystate Games where I ran the 400 meters at 63.8 seconds, faster then I ran at the age of 60. I am getting older but it seems like I’m getting faster. This race was a big surprise to me because I didn’t expect to run that fast. I was competitive with the 50-year-olds.”

Does he ever get tired ? Some times. ”The ego says yes, the body says no.” How long is he going to keep this up? “I am going to run until my legs go limp.” Probably not soon. Asked what drives him to keep running, he answers: “The idea that I can still do it at a high competitive level and only have to depend on my individual ability. My motto is never give up, never give in. Be the man within.”