Spartans legend Doehring wore many hats

ST. JOSEPH — Dale Doehring, who spent a quarter of a century as the athletic director at St. Joseph-Ogden High School, died Wednesday.

Doehring, 66, was a Mahomet-Seymour graduate who started his teaching and coaching career at SJ-O in 1973. He coached basketball and football as the head coach simultaneously for six seasons and also had a seventh year with football. He became the Spartans' athletic director in 1979 and held that position until his retirement in June 2004.

"He knew his stuff and knew so much about so many different sports," SJ-O softball coach Randy Wolken said. "He did a great job."

Current Spartans AD Dick Duval — who succeeded Doehring — owes a debt of gratitude to his former boss.

"He gave me my first head coaching job (in 1988 in football)," Duval said. "He took a chance on an assistant coach, which a lot schools are not willing to do anymore.

"A lot of schools want head coaching experience. He must have seen something and was willing to take that chance."

Doehring was also a highly respected basketball official who was assigned by the IHSA to work the girls' state tournaments in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

Duval didn't know that in the interview process and, in retrospect, might have answered one question differently.

"Dale asked different things and I talked about coaching basketball as an assistant at Kankakee," Duval said. "Back then, there was a News-Gazette Thanksgiving Tournament. I said I was here as an assistant coach and we felt the officiating wasn't very good."

Duval learned later Doehring was a tourney official.

"It was kind of funny as we looked back," Duval said, thankful Doehring didn't hold a grudge about that remark.

One of Doehring's officiating partners was former SJ-O administrator Bill Plymire. Together, they encouraged others to become officials. One was Savoy's Kevin Peters.

"He said, 'You'd be a good official' and got me broke in," said Peters, who has officiated basketball games 30 years.

Peters played basketball at SJ-O the first four years Doehring coached. He said if not for Doehring, he likely would not have become a referee.

"It took someone like Dale and Bill to talk me into it," Peters said.

Duval's appreciation of Doehring extended beyond the chance to be a head coach.

"After the 1997 season, he called me into his office and told me how glad he was to have me be his son's (Dirk's) football coach," Duval said. "I felt Dale was one of the most knowledgeable sports persons I've ever met. For him to say that meant a lot."

Doehring was the state AD of the Year in 1991 and 1995 and oversaw a program that won six state titles in four sports between 1990 and 2000.

Arrangements are incomplete at Freese Funeral Home, 302 E. Grand Ave., St. Joseph.

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