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Author Topic: Coach Doug Duke RIP  (Read 2872 times)
Posts: 17

« on: March 14, 2010, 04:51:49 PM »

Debate lost another giant today as Douglas Duke passed away because of complications from a fraying heart valve. This is very hard for me to write. It has already been a very hard year and this is a particularly personal blow.

Most of you probably do not know Doug Duke. Coach Duke was a debate coach for 30 years - mostly at the University of Central Oklahoma - he had many teams in elims of the NDT/CEDA and one win CEDA nationals. In terms of contemporary debate influence Coach Duke had direct and profound influence on myself, Greg Achten, Jenny Heidt, Jason Russell, Martin Glendenning, David Baker, Steve Donald, Cissy Sullivan, Jackie Massey, Eric Marlow, and many others. In overall influence Coach touched tens of thousands of lives as both a teacher of debate and of communication.

It is very hard for me to explain all the things I have learned from Coach:

First (and most important) your debate team is an extension of your family. To this day, my college debate team best friends are still my best friends and we keep in touch regularly...We take trips together...we care deeply about each other. This was the way Coach Duke ran his teams. I cannot tell you how many times I ate dinner at the Duke house. Coach and his wonderful wife Bobby were like a second family to all of us. As a result, Coach always went out of his way to keep up with his family of debaters and celebrated and suffered through everything in our lives with us. My heart goes out to Coach Dukes wife, Drew and Cheryl, Grant and Hope, Kelley and her husband, and his large brood of grandchildren. I try to treat my team like Coach did, like a family and like I am the person they can come to away from home.

Second, care deeply about education. I remember very well arriving at UCO after flunking out at UNT (and taking a year off). The first thing coach Duke said was that I could only debate after I proved I could get my grades back to an acceptable level. I have always appreciated him making me take my education seriously and have tried to carry that with me into coaching. Coach Duke also taught a large percentage of the debate coaches in his classes at UCO. He was a debate and communications teaching dynamo.

Third, give second chances. I would not be in debate now if it werent for Coach giving me a second chance. Believe me when I say that I am not the only one who took advantage of one of Coach Duke's second chances. There are people all over the country today who have an education and career thanks to Coach giving them a chance when nobody else would. In many ways, I think Coach would want us to be seen as one of his most important legacies and I know he considered this one of the things he was proudest about in his life.

Fourth, never ignore the opportunity for providing greater life experiences. Coach started debating at Stigler HS in Stigler Oklahoma. I remember how important it was to him to make sure that when we travelled we didnt just debate but also experienced the places we were visiting. Coach realized that for most of our team, this would be a first time to a town like Seattle or some city in Florida. He would go out of his way to find a way we could experience some of the local flavor be it by visiting some historical landmark or eating dinner at a place that would give us a flavor of the place or region. On our many 10-20 hour van trips we visited the entire country during my time as a debater and coach at UCO.

Fifth, give back. For the last years of his life - a life given to teaching thousands of students - Coach refused to retire to leisure and donated time at the Hope Foundation in Edmond. Every time I talked to him he would speak of how happy it made him to be giving back to people with greater needs. It is astounding to me that a man who had given so much still felt an obligation to fill his retirement years helping others.

Sixth, hard work is its own reward. Coach expected a TON from us...and I cannot say that we never had our differences...but, in the end, his high expectations for all of us shaped us into the successful people we have all become in later life. He wanted us to win - but win or lose, he expected us to be prepared. I have tried very hard to teach that we should have high expectations of our own behaviors...I learned this from those long nights cutting and pasting in the squad room with all my close friends. As hard as those nights were, I wouldn't have traded them for the world.

Finally, appreciate what you have. I was extremely lucky to have a coach who cared so much about me as a competitor, a person, and as a coach in later life. We had a great relationship to the present day. I will always regret that we did not talk during the last few weeks but I know, when he passed, he knew how deeply I loved him and our larger UCO debate family. It meant so much to me that he was proud of my achievements as a coach and as a person. He always took the time to tell me that he was proud of me and that he cared. He was like a second (away from home) Dad to me (no offense to my actual Father who also is an amazing man and mentor). I look back and remember all the times that he drove both ways to every tournament for 10-20 hours at a time. I remember his tireless competitiveness and joy of life. I remember how in awe I was seeing him with his grandchildren who were all the lights of his life.

Thanks so much Coach, you will always be one of the most important people in my life. I will miss you terribly.

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