Steady. Solid. Humble. Those are the words you hear when Middle School Head Charlie Blair’s name comes up.
Blair grew up in Richmond and attended St. Christopher’s School from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. As a child, he loved being with friends, going on crazy bicycle rides, going to the beach, fishing, and his years at Camp Virginia. He has great memories, especially of his time at Camp Virginia. When describing his childhood, Blair said he was “pretty darn lucky.” When attending his first year of college at the University of Virginia, he was almost certain he wanted to involve himself in economics or business. After going to these classes, he realized he had made a premature decision. He had been working at Camp Virginia as a counselor and realized he really liked working with kids. So he decided to pursue a path in education. He ended up earning both his undergraduate and master’s degrees in education at UVA.
Camp Virginia played a significant role in Blair’s life, and it led him to Collegiate. At Camp Virginia, he was “inspired” by people like Albert “Petey” Jacobs and Malcolm “Buck” Pitt to become involved with Collegiate. Jacobs was the Athletic Director at Collegiate for many years and Pitt was the Head of the Boys School (and became Collegiate Headmaster when the school went co-ed.) After joining Collegiate in 1979 as a teacher and coach, Blair became the Head of the Middle School a short time later, where he has since impacted thousands of students’ lives. He believes that Collegiate has created an environment where kids can feel supported, that is conducive to their learning and lets them be successful. He also acknowledges that Middle Schoolers are fun. Blair said that in his role, he tries to “be fair, a good listener, and to help people find their path to success.”
In addition to his Middle School duties, Blair also coaches the men’s varsity soccer team. Blair started as the assistant head coach of the team in 1979 and earned his current position as head coach in 1981. On the field, Blair is calm but focused. The trait he values most in a player is a strong work ethic. He says, “I love to see players with passion and commitment. I also love seeing kids who don’t know how hard they can push themselves until they really try.” Captain Shaan Sharma (‘17) says, “The reason Coach Blair is so successful as a coach is because he trusts his players and focuses on their strengths for the good of the team.” Blair says his greatest accomplishment as a coach is “the relationships I have been fortunate to develop with my players over the years, it is what I hold most dear.” Charlie McFall, a long-time friend of Blair’s and former athletic director and varsity football coach at Collegiate, said, “Blair is a student of the game and passionate about soccer. He loves the game, and his players are always prepared to play the game the right way. He always seems to get the best out of his teams, the mark of a great coach.”
Sports have been an important part of Blair’s life since boyhood. He was an accomplished soccer and baseball player and was recruited by multiple Division III colleges. However, despite the interest he received from these colleges, he made the decision to attend the University of Virginia and play intramural sports with his friends. He does regret not trying to play soccer at UVA. He said, “I didn’t think I was good enough, so I didn’t give it a try. I wish I had.” Blair clearly passed on his soccer gifts to his children, as three out of his four kids went on to play soccer in college (at the University of Richmond, Wofford College, and Sewanee: University of the South.)
On the weekends, Blair and his wife, Leslie, love spending time in Mathews County, Virginia, where he loves to fish and kayak. Blair also loves to cook, especially different types of soups. He reads and watches television to relax, but he only watches when the channel is playing something involving soccer, Ken Burns, The History Channel, National Geographic, or Discovery. He once went on a ten day safari trip in Kenya, which he described as one of the high points in his life.
They say great teachers don’t just teach you, they change you. Charlie Blair has that impact. He connects with his students and his players in a way that goes beyond the classroom. He makes you want to be better than you think you are. Shep Lewis, assistant soccer coach and Associate Director of Development, said the following about Blair, “Integrity is the first thing that comes to mind. He treats people, whether they are students, parents or teachers, with respect. He is as fair and honest with the star player as he is with someone who made a bad choice. He is supportive of those around him, a tremendous listener, and level-headed in difficult situations. He truly sees the good in each person. I think that is what has made him so successful and Collegiate a great place to be.”