Leader, Coach, Mentor

A Leader, Coach, Mentor


Dave McDowell was a High School Physical Education Teacher, wrestling Coach and girls softball coach for over thirty years.  He had a positive influence on so many students and athletes throughout his long career.


Dave started out as a Marine and later became a Drill Sergeant before starting his teaching and coaching career at Mattoon High School.  Dave typified what you would think a Drill Sergeant would look and sound like.  He was a large muscular man that had a loud resonating voice that got your attention.  Despite this, Coach McDowell always seemed to have a smile on his face.  He was always trying to talk students into joining one of his sports teams or another one, because he knew the positive benefits it could have on kids that tended to get into trouble.  He did not just give up on students like many other teachers would do.  He was the Teacher’s Union President for many years of career because his peers saw and respected his leadership abilities as well.


Dave had a successful coaching career in wrestling and girls when it came to wins and losses, but his greatest victory was the affect he had on the students he taught and coached.  Coach McDowell would go above and beyond to help out his athletes. When I wrestled for Coach McDowell he would have the whole team spend the night at his house before weekend tournaments.  Although this would never fly today, he did this out of kindness and concern for our well being.  When someone messed up he would not yell and scream he would have a conversation and there would be consequences.  There were many times we would be running with him on a Sunday.  He had a six mile course he always ran and we would pick up cans along the way.  We may not have always been happy about what we had to do to pay the consequences for what we had done but looking back we all knew it was because he loved us and wanted us to grow up to be good people.  There is no doubt that I could call Coach McDowell today and ask him for help or advised and he would be there in a heartbeat to do what he could to help out.


There are leaders all over in every aspect of life.  I was lucky enough to have Coach McDowell in my life to teach me some positive aspects in my life and coaching career.  I have always tried to pass along the positive lessons learned from him.  He is a true leader and has touched so many throughout his life to prove it.

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