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ArlingtonSportsPopular coach/teacher had 'platinum touch'

Popular coach/teacher had ‘platinum touch’

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For Daniel Ferguson, it’s plain and simple. Antuon Townsend was the best, most fun and friendliest basketball trainer and coach he ever had. 

“He was one of he most genuine people I have ever known,” said Ferguson, a former Wakefield High School basketball player and now a freshman at James Madison University. “He made relationships with kids feel genuine and he helped all of us develop a love for basketball, even if we didn’t previously like the sport. It was so fun to attend one of his camps. If you were sad or feeling bad before one of his camps, you weren’t sad anymore. He’d end camps with pizza days.” 

For more than 20 years, Townsend – who died March 22 at age 39 from colon cancer – was a highly-popular personal trainer, instructor and coach of basketball and sports camps in Arlington for kids of all ages, touching thousands of lives. The Ferguson brothers, Daniel and older sibling Tim, were two of his former campers, explaining how his camps were always packed.

“It’s extremely sad he’s gone,” Daniel Ferguson said. “He was so passionate about basketball and dedicated to the success of so many kids reaching their potential in the sport. He’d come to my games.”

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The loss of Townsend, and at such a young age, has hit the Arlington community hard.

Townsend grew up in Arlington. He became an all-district four-year starting varsity boys basketball at Wakefield High School as a skinny 5-foot-9 guard under former coach Bob Veldran. He helped the Warriors reach the state tournament in 1996 and finish second in the Northern Region Tournament, before graduating in 2000.

Townsend played in college at Garrett Community College in Maryland, then at Shenandoah University in Winchester.

Graham McBride, an assistant principal at Woodlawn, said many were devastated by the loss. 

“I am hearing from people from all over about Antuon. He coached so many teams and kids and his impact on them was substantial,” McBride said. “All of Arlington were his kids.”

McBride told the story of how Townsend helped teach a young student from Mongolia how to speak English through basketball, and how he worked magic working with various types of special-needs students.

“Antuon had a gift for that, seeing kids on the sidelines and bringing them along and making them part of the community,” McBride said.

Allan Glascock runs the All American Sports Camps in Arlington where Townsend worked, often joined by his longtime friend Keya Woodson.

“Conservatively, Antuon probably touched the lives of at least 7,000 kids in Arlington over the years, if not many more,” Glascock said. “He had the platinum touch with them and was the best of the best. And the kids all loved him. He coached every type of kids you can imagine – the tough ones, the cocky ones, the shyest. He knew how to handle each of them, and he had an amazing touch and impacted them all. You can’t replace that.”

John Blevins is another who worked closely with Townsend, explained another his talents, as an artist.

“He could draw anything, and he had some great sports paintings and characters,” Blevins said. “Parents would hire Antuon for their kids’ birthday parties, because he would bring his entertaining sports games of all kinds. My two kids loved him. Antuon would give the shirt off of his back for anybody.”

Current Wakefield head football coach Wayne Hogwood knew Townsend for years, each graduating from Wakefield in 2000 and each attending Shenandoah. 

“Tuon and I hung out forever,” Hogwood said. “I saw him the Thursday before he died. He was coherent, we were reminicing and joking. He always looked out for everybody.”

“This is a rough one for the community.” Hogwood said. 

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