Just before running on the field to start the homecoming game on Oct. 5, the Malverne High School football team stopped to form a quick arm-linked huddle around Colbert Britt’s memorial stone — honoring a former head coach and teacher who died almost three years ago but created a lasting legacy.
The memorial stone was revealed at last year’s homecoming game, at the same time the high school’s football field was renamed Colbert Britt Memorial Field.
Britt’s legacy is honored not just by the memorial stone and football field, but also in the phrase “Blood for Britt.” Printed on blue and orange T-shirts and worn by school staff, the phrase remembers Britt, the former Malverne head coach whose specialty was defense. His defensive players were nicknamed “Blood,” a tradition which dates back to Britt’s college football days at Florida Memorial College, which is now Florida Memorial University.
In 2005, Britt retired from teaching and continued as head varsity coach until 2008. He then stayed on as an assistant coach until his death in December 2015 at 76.
Britt was a teacher and coach for more than 40 years in the Malverne school district. He started as a physical education teacher in 1972 at Howard T. Herber Middle School in Malverne, and eventually moved to the high school to coach football, along with boys and girls track and field.
Norma Britt, Colbert Britt’s widow and a Malverne alumna, said it feels great to know that the field is named after her husband, who was also inducted into the Nassau County High School Athletics Hall of Fame last month.
“Almost every day except when the weather was bad, he was on this track, so it’s very fitting,” she said.
Current Malverne head coach Kito Lockwood, who was in Britt’s physical education class as a student and played under him, said his predecessor was one of the “best motivating coaches” he encountered as a student-athlete. Lockwood served as head coach of the junior varsity team and assistant varsity coach under Britt before taking the head coaching job after Britt stepped away from it in 2008.
“I was blessed and fortunate enough to coach alongside him, and I was also blessed that he was around to mentor me while I was varsity coach,” Lockwood said.
Britt’s daughter, Alma Britt, said that beyond being a dedicated coach, her dad was known as a father-like figure on and off the field. His thoughtfulness included buying birthday cakes for track and field team members, giving students lunch money or just simply being a positive male figure for students who didn’t have one, she recalled.
A Malverne alum like her mother, Alma Britt is now the girls' varsity track and field coach at the school. She feels as it has allowed her to continue in her father’s legacy.
“I got my athletic love from him,” she said. “I feel like I’m able to do what he did for other kids."