Alex Pauline Road honors beloved mentor |

Alex Joseph-Pauline, known to many as Al Pauline or “Coach Al,” was the “father of the neighborhood” of Rochdale for decades, serving the community as a public school teacher, coach, mentor and more.

More than 100 participants gathered at the intersection of 176th Street and 134th Road, next to where Joseph-Pauline grew up in Rochdale Village, to collectively name a street in his honor last Saturday.

The road also leads to PS 80, where Joseph-Pauline taught, and South Rochdale Playground, where he ran basketball classes.

Joseph-Pauline, who died in 2019 after a battle with cancer, has lived most of his life in Rochdale Village.

“What makes this community so special is the ordinary people who live here and care so much about their neighbors, especially our seniors and our young people,” spokeswoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) said at the ceremony.

“The residents of Rochdale Village look out for one another and support one another in every way they can. One of those unsung heroes was Alex Pauline, who grew up in Circle Four and has called Rochdale Village home his entire life.”

Joseph-Pauline grew up playing basketball at South Rochdale Playground and he and most of his family attended PS 80 where he later worked as a janitor, teacher and coach.

In 1988, he founded a nonprofit basketball program called Drug Free That’s Me, which took place on the weekends at the South Rochdale Playground basketball court.

“Al would use halftime of the Games to preach and teach the young men and women about the effects of drug and alcohol use, crime, African American culture and life itself,” said Gary Clifton at the ceremony.

Clifton, who works at MS 72 and runs the Recreational Inner-City Sports Education program, worked with Joseph-Pauline and recalled the support he received from him as the two battled cancer together in 2019.

“When I went through that, he was actually more worried about me than he was about himself,” Clifton said. “He built me ​​up a lot. I will always be grateful for that.”

He continued, “He was someone who positively impacted so many lives. He has formed many relationships through education, the game of basketball, and being a true leader in the neighborhood. He taught many life lessons that helped change most of us for the better.”

Many of Coach Al’s players have accomplished great things, including former Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom, originally from South Jamaica, and Joseph-Pauline’s own son Aleek, who went on to play professional basketball abroad and still mostly hosts clinics and organizes the Road Co -Designation.

After the ceremony, they held a free basketball clinic at South Rochdale Playground. The children took part in exercises and enjoyed family barbecues.

The Elite Marching Band of Queens New York, led by Larry Cathan, brought the beats with an opening performance of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” a dramatic drum roll to unveil the street sign, and a celebratory march to The Playground.

In a true show of community, there was applause for the homeowner on the street corner, who provided electricity to avoid using a noisy generator.

“My family and I are truly blessed to have had Alex Joseph-Pauline as our king,” Aleek Joseph-Pauline said of his father.

It was a labor of love, he said, to make the street’s joint naming a reality, and he worked with the Speaker’s office for over a year to make it happen.

Joseph-Pauline’s wife and other children were also present: Dolores Joseph-Pauline, whom he had met when they attended York College together, and who opened the ceremony with prayer; her son Deon Johnson; and daughter Sahlia Joseph-Pauline.

“It’s an honor,” said his daughter. “I’m so grateful that the community recognizes community leaders.”

She said she grew up around her father’s community and didn’t realize the impact he left on her until she got older.

Now she has graduated as a doctor and helps medical students with their medical studies.

Shawn Chandler, who lived near Joseph-Pauline and taught with him at the same school, remembered him as a teacher and family man with a sense of humor.

“He made you laugh, he made you think,” Chandler said.

“When you were on the basketball courts, he made you think not just about basketball, but about how you represent yourself and respect others.”

State Senator Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) knew Joseph-Pauline personally and commented on his decision to stay and give back to the community that raised him.

“He is a true hero of our community, who deserves to have a street sign in his name, who deserves to have his memory remembered,” said Comrie.

“I would tell you all, keep paying it and give it to someone else. We have other young people in our community who need your guiding hand,” he said.

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