Living tribute to Coach Dan Does; trail dedicated in memory of longtime coach, mentor, teacher

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Dan Dors knew he had lived a “good life.”

He marked those words on his home calendar marking his birthday, June 11.

The longtime coach, mentor and friend, however, failed to see his 82nd birthday. He suddenly passed away this past Jan. 29.

The unexpected loss of the popular and upbeat coach left many saddened because they never had a chance to thank him or wish him good-bye.

Friday, they got that chance.

Under a sunny sky, family members, friends, fellow coaches and athletes gathered for the dedication of the trail that extends from the high school to the middle school in Coach Dan Dors’ memory.

Dors Trail will be a lasting memorial to a man never short on words, wisdom or good wishes.

TRAIL DEDICATED with a ribbon cutting by Coach Does' granddaughter Samantha, while coach's daughters Cathy and Terri look on. (Rivet Photos)

“You always knew when Coach Dors was around. He had that distinct voice…I can’t think of another individual who has impacted more lives than Coach Dors did. I think the trail connecting the high school to the middle school is just so fitting because it connects all of the kids he has touched,” Lake Region Athletic Director Paul True said. “It is said that a man is not judged by the possessions that he has, but rather the friends that he has made. That’s why Coach Dors will always be a legend in this community. I couldn’t be more proud or excited to have this trail named after him.”

There were plenty of stories to tell about the Coach.

“For 13 years, he promised to bring me a coffee. It was almost every day that I saw him and he asked me how I wanted my coffee and when I wanted it. I never got a stinking coffee from him. Not one,” True said. “Every time he came back in, he would have his Dunkin’ Donuts cup in his hand and I asked, ‘Coach, do you have my coffee?’ He said, ‘I put it on top of my car and it must have fallen off the roof!’ Every time.”

“I got my coffee, every day,” joked Kurt Peterson, who spearheaded the drive to have the trail named after Coach Dors. “Yours would turn up at the middle school, where I teach.”

UNVEILING by Coach Kurt Peterson and Jeff Porter.

Working beside Coach Dors for over a decade as an assistant with the cross-country team, Kurt Peterson admired that “he would talk to anybody.”

“It didn’t matter if you were the best cross-country runner, the beginning cross-country runner, someone who didn’t even run cross-country…He would talk to everybody. He gave you that time. When I reflect back on all the things he has taught me, it’s probably the biggest thing. We are all in this together and we should always respect everybody equally,” Peterson said.

Daughter Terri Chizmar pointed out that her dad was a coach for nearly 60 years.

“He would tell you it is great to win…But, he would also tell you that there was something more important. It was getting the win out of those individuals, who did not win a championship. My father was everyone’s cheerleader. He was incredibly proud of everyone who showed up to each practice and each meet and gave everything they had. If you ran a second faster than your last race, if you threw or jumped an inch farther than your last attempt, you were a winner because you didn’t quit and you gave all that you had to give. That’s all he ever asked of a student or of an athlete,” Chizmar said. “My father tried to teach that winning didn’t always mean being first, but winning meant that you had done better than you ever had before. The real win comes from within yourself. You become your own champion.”

She closed out by expressing gratitude from their family for all that has been done for her dad.

“The love and prayers extended to us have been a great comfort,” she said. “When you think of my father, I ask that you remember this quote from the late John Wooden. ‘A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.’ I think that sums up my father’s life perfectly. He changed lives.”

Granddaughter Samantha DeSouza added, “He was your classic family man…He loved Lake Region…He had a goal that everyone he encountered he tried to make them laugh and smile with one of his jokes that you most likely already heard. He cared about every person he knew and always showed it…The world was better when he was here.”

Former all-state runners and Lake Region Hall of Fame members Kevin Floster and Miles Bartlett returned to their alma mater to pay tribute to their former coach.

“He cared about his athletes more than anyone else that I know. He taught life lessons through sports, which changed people and changed my life,” Floster said. “He was like a grandfather to an entire community. It was special how much he cared about people and really took an interest in everyone’s success, not matter how big or small it was. People really responded to him, they didn’t want to let him down. Great role model for a lot of people.”

Miles agreed. “He got to know people personally. A lot of kids didn’t have an interest in running, they just wanted to be around Dan. He was so interesting…The atmosphere around him was great…It didn’t matter what your true performance was, you felt good about what you were doing because of him. With Dan, we always felt that as long as we put in a good effort, that’s all he wanted. He encouraged everyone to keep doing their best, even if they weren’t the best.”

Coach Dors made a lasting impression upon many.

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