When it comes to the term “student-athlete,” those who fit that description at R.K. Smith Middle School have quite the role model walking the halls on a daily basis. R.K. Smith Middle School principal Harold Blood will be honored by his alma mater Arkansas State University, when the school inducts him into its Hall of Honor at an Oct. 28 banquet.
Blood, a former track and field standout for the school, will be inducted alongside three fellow alumni: former NFL star Tyrell Johnson, former football all-conference performer Terry Whiting and Olympian Kellie Suttle.
“I’m very excited. It’s truly a huge honor for me,” Blood said, noting the school will display a rendering of each of the athletes to be displayed at the hall. “It’s something that will be there for life, something I’ll be able to show even my grandkids one day. I’m really looking forward to the banquet.”
Blood, a three-year letterman from 1988-90, holds two school records. He ran the 800-meters outdoors event in 1:49.03 to establish the top mark in program history and was also a member of the 4×400-meter relay that holds a school-record time of 3:07.22. He ranks third on the all-time performance list indoors with an 800-meter time of 1:50.17.
Blood was a six-time all-conference (American South) performer, earning five of the six honors in the 800-meter run. He helped A-State to the American South Conference Indoor Championships in 1989 and 1990 while the team claimed the outdoor championship in 1989.
He began competing in his 8th grade year, joining his junior high school team. He went on earn scholarship offers from multiple schools, including his eventual alma mater. At Arkansas State, he called himself fortunate to work with coaches like Al Joyner, a 1984 Olympian who earned the gold medal in the triple jump, and Guy Kochel, a renowned track and field coach who trained numerous athletes for Olympic competition.
“They influenced me a great deal,” Blood said.
Along the way, he earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education, leading him down what he describes as an incredibly rewarding career path. The native of Stuttgart, Ark., now lives in Destrehan and he just began his 10th year at R.K. Smith.
He says he cherishes every single day of his work at his school.
“It’s not a job for me. It’s my passion,” Blood said. “It’s what I do. I’m working at a great place in R.K. Smith. For me, everything is about the kids. They come first. I get to work with them every day and so, for me, it’s always going well.”
While Blood gets to impart wisdom to his students on a daily basis, there are already signs that he’s passed on some of his talents directly to the next generation: specifically, to his son, J.R., a sophomore at Destrehan High School who has shown great promise on the football field while excelling in the classroom.
The younger Blood was pressed into duty as the quarterback of the Wildcats football team due to injury in the middle of its rivalry game with Hahnville. In a high-pressure spot, he came through to help lead his team to victory. J.R. has been at the helm in each of Destrehan’s past two games, both wins. J.R. is also an accomplished basketball player who started as a freshman for the Wildcats on the court.
“It’s been very exciting to see him step up,” Blood said. “He was waiting for his time, and it came suddenly. I like the humility he’s shown with it as well. He’s a very smart player, he puts in his practice time and he’s staying humble.”
At the same time, the father offered a reminder that expectations aren’t limited to the sports realm.
“I want to see him keep those grades intact and stay on the honor roll,” Blood said. “He’s handling it well.”