By Robin Chandler '87
An impressive group of current and former faculty, as well as numerous Hotchkiss alumni, gathered on Centennial Field prior to the boys varsity soccer game last month to honor longtime head soccer coach W. David Coughlin P’91,‘93, AKA “The Rock,” with the dedication of a new scoreboard. A plaque that appropriately sits atop a large boulder next to the scoreboard reads, “Given as an expression of enduring gratitude, respect, and affection for W. David Coughlin by his captains and team leaders.” The classes listed on the plaque span Coughlin’s nearly 30-year coaching career from 1962-1990.
“The duration of an athletic contest is only a few minutes, while the training for it may take many weeks of arduous training and continuous exercise of self-effort,” states a quote on the plaque. “The real value of sport is not the actual game played in the limelight of applause, but the hours of dogged determination and self-discipline carried out alone, imposed and supervised by an exacting conscience. The applause soon dies away, the prize is left behind, but the character you build up is yours forever.” While the author of this quote remains anonymous to this day, every one of Coughlin’s former players knows this as The Rock’s coaching and life philosophy. Students who played for The Rock lived and breathed this credo, and he let you know if you were not living up to his high expectations.
Coughlin stood out as one of the most inspirational and powerful influences on the life of Doug Tudor ’85. He fondly recalls Coughlin’s impact on his time at Hotchkiss and shares the many lessons learned on the field. “You played as one team, not as a collection of individuals, and played for something bigger than yourself,” he said, remembering how these lessons extended beyond the playing field. “You took your responsibilities seriously and met your commitments. You showed up early to your practice and game times, ready to perform. You represented Hotchkiss as a gentleman. You won with humility and lost with grace. When you experienced adversity and were knocked down and lost, you got back up and moved forward. The Rock expected you to be the best version of yourself, and he would let you know it if that wasn’t the case.”
Tudor created a fund in honor of his former coach called The W. David Coughlin Head Varsity Soccer Coaching Fund—the first of its kind at Hotchkiss. During the Oct. 29 dedication, Tudor turned toward Coughlin and beamed with Bearcat pride. “This is the first endowed coaching fund to be established at Hotchkiss. Alumni have come together to fund this position to thank you and to honor you.”
Rob Durkee ‘66, who celebrates an enduring sense of gratitude, respect, and affection for Coughlin, led the charge in raising the funds for the new scoreboard. “I will always remember and celebrate The Rock’s impatience with partial efforts,” he says. “He insisted that we worked hard and played hard. His constant exuberance and great expectations were contagious for the team and individual players. We would follow him anywhere.”
Coughlin was overcome with emotion at the dedication of the scoreboard and the announcement of the coaching fund. “It was such a delight to see so many of my former players again going way back to Hugh Freund, captain of the 1962 team, my first as head varsity coach, all the way up to the late 1980s. Seeing former colleagues and co-coaches of the past, who took the time to join us, made for a wonderful afternoon and evening, and it’s hard to express my gratitude for the many tributes, recognition, friendship, and affection. It’s all pretty humbling.”