Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Doug Sheppard

Coach Doug Sheppard has died.

Younger readers won't remember the name. But for those of a certain age, you'll recall Sheppard as a fixture in the Ulster County sports scene, primarily as a coach at SUNY New Paltz (or New Paltz State, as it was commonly known in the '60s and '70s).

Coach Sheppard was one of the first people I met as a freshman at New Paltz in 1966. I spent a lot of time at Elting Gym back then.I was a young kid and wannabe sports writer who wrote for the school paper and hung out with a friendly and dynamic group of coaches like Sheppard, Joe Owens, Bob Durkin, Art Stockin and Arnie Lent.

Coach Sheppard coached golf, which wasn't my sport back then. (The way I play today, it's still not my sport, if you get my drift.) It was as men's basketball coach that I really got to know him, particularly when I tagged along on road trips, watching him work close up and interacting with him and his players on a personal level.

Coach Sheppard's teams weren't particularly talented. But he knew the game and his athletes respected him and played hard for him.

I saw him from time to time over the many years since I graduated and he retired, mostly at the Herdegen golf tournament. He always seemed to light up when he recognized me. (I got older, he didn't, so sometimes it took him a second.) It's not that it was me. I just think he got a kick out of reconnecting with former students and he enjoyed watching them grow up.

I never called him Doug. To me, he was always Coach Sheppard. He was a good guy.
comments powered by Disqus

<< Home