Coach Mel Labat passed away suddenly on January 25, 2017. He was an educator, coach, and mentor to family members, friends, and colleagues alike.
As an educator and coach, Mel taught thousands of students across the DC area a wide variety of sports, including football, tennis, basketball, track and field, and volleyball. For decades however, tennis was his passion and his main focus. Whether you excelled at the sport or “couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” Mel helped so many people both improve their games and learn skills that would last a lifetime.
While Mel taught the sport that he loved to people of all ages from just 2 years old to over 90, he especially enjoyed working with students at the middle and high school level. He would work his teams hard so they would grow and learn. Winning was not his sole goal, but he did take great satisfaction in having coached the 1981 Yorktown Boys’ Tennis Team to the Virginia State Boys’ Tennis Championship.
As a teacher and coach in the Arlington County Public Schools, Mel was beloved by his students and widely respected by them for his insistence on good sportsmanship both on and off the playing field. He created and fostered opportunities for anyone interested in learning and playing sports, whatever their background or ability.
Mel loved to develop, lead, and market new sports programs that excited both new and veteran players alike. He excelled at improvising to meet the needs of his students and whatever challenges there were. His “black top” tennis programs brought tennis to places where there were no tennis courts. Using the relationships he formed with Arlington Y Tennis and Squash, as well as the recreation departments of both Arlington County and the City of Alexandria, Mel was able to develop and organize sports programs that included the traveling Junior tennis camp, afternoon flag football, Saturday morning track, and weekend pick-up basketball.
Coach Mel Labat will be missed tremendously by family, friends, and colleagues for his quiet generosity and the way he embraced life.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 4, 2017, at 1:00 pm at Everly Community Funeral Care, 6161 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be made to
So Others Might Eat
71 O Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Wounded Warrior Project
7020 A.C. Skinner Parkway, Suite 100
Jacksonville, FL 32256