City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Senator Leroy Comrie, along with residents, friends and family members celebrated the life and legacy of Alex Pauline, a beloved community figure who mentored young people in Rochdale Village, with a street co-naming ceremony on Saturday, June 18.
The intersection of 173rd Street and 134th Road, adjacent to where Pauline grew up in Rochdale Village, has been officially co-named “Alex Pauline Road.”
Family and friends at the ceremony highlighted the profound impact that Pauline, affectionately known as “Coach Al,” had on neighborhood youth.
“Me and my family are truly blessed to have had Alex Joseph-Pauline as our king,” said Aleek Pauline, the son of Alex Pauline. “He has been recognized and received numerous awards for his commitment to our community, but today, we celebrated the biggest honor ever as NYC Speaker Adrienne Adams sponsored the co-naming of 134th Road as ‘Alex Pauline Road.’”
Following the street co-naming ceremony, Pauline’s family organized a free basketball clinic at the South Rochdale Playground. Youth participants engaged in basketball and fitness drills, got free shirts and enjoyed free food.
Pauline was a well-known figure in Rochdale Village. As a child of “Circle 4,” he grew up playing basketball in South Rochdale Playground with his brothers and friends.
This playground and the adjacent school, P.S. 80Q, meant everything to Pauline. His entire extended family attended P.S. 80Q and as an adult, he never left the area. Pauline worked as the school custodian, a teacher and the basketball coach at the school. His workdays began at 7 a.m. in the classroom and ended at 10 p.m. with his custodial work.
In 1988, Pauline created a nonprofit basketball program called “Drug Free That’s Me,” which was held on the weekends on the basketball court at South Rochdale Playground.
“Drug Free That’s Me” was formed to provide alternatives to drug abuse and crime for young people. The program not only taught basketball and all aspects of the game but also elevated the importance of education and informed participants of the detrimental effects of drug use.
“Coach Al” was a father figure to his students, neighborhood kids and his basketball players.
The first annual “Drug Free That’s Me Day in Memory of Al Pauline” was held nine months after Pauline’s passing in 2019. Several players who participated in his program when they were kids attended the event.
A local summer basketball tournament, known as B.A.C.E., later presented the “Al Pauline Award” to the player who averaged the most points throughout the tournament.
Additionally, Pauline’s program was featured in the TV One series “Uncensored,” which featured NBA star Lamar Odom, who had participated in Coach Al’s program. Many community members still say this when they look at P.S. 80Q, they think of “Coach Al.”
Adams described Pauline as a “selfless community hero” who dedicated his life to educating, mentoring and supporting young people and students.
“Through basketball and his own nonprofit program, Drug Free That’s Me, ‘Coach Al’ positively influenced the lives of countless neighborhood youth,’” Adams said. “His legacy lives on through them, and will be remembered forever with the unveiling of ‘Alex Pauline Road.’ I thank the Pauline family, local elected officials and community members for gathering to honor Coach Al’s life.”
Senator Leroy Comrie said celebrating the life and contributions of Pauline lifts up his commitment to the community and his outstanding legacy.
“Co-naming ‘Alex Pauline Road’ serves as a testimony to the lives he touched, the young people Drug Free That’s Me impacted and his lifetime of public service,” Comrie said. “Thanks to Speaker Adams, the Pauline family and all who gathered to share the occasion.”