By Cory Nidoh
SC Staff Writer
There’s a man who has been involved with East Stroudsburg University for the last 41 years. He wears ESU laden gear to almost all the sporting events on campus and can be seen with a beaming smile on his face rooting on the Warriors’.
For Denny Douds, football has been a constant in his life.
The game, along with some help from a map, led the head coach for the ESU football team to the red, black, and white colors of the East Stroudsburg University Warriors.
Douds, a native of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and a member of the football team at Slippery Rock University in his college days, didn’t even know East Stroudsburg existed.
“We were playing East Stroudsburg in a state game for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. I decided to get a map to see where it was and found out it was across the state,” Douds said.
Four years later, Douds and his wife Judy came to ESU when Douds was hired as a teacher and wide receiver/linebacker coach for the Warriors.
After the first year, both Douds and his wife decided what they wanted. “We wanted a great place to raise a family and with the Poconos, you can’t get any better than that,” Douds said. The two have been here ever since.
Aside from coaching, Douds is a big advocate of serving the community and interacting with the students.
He can be seen greeting people wherever he goes and offering his support to the students either in the class room or on the field or court.
As just one of three coaches in Division II to reach 250 wins, Douds is very involved in serving the community.
This year, he is the United Way of Monroe County Honorary Chair and will host the United Way of Monroe County at the last home game of the regular season for the Warriors.
The football team is also involved with the annual “Coach to Cure MD” program through the American Football Coaches Association.
The program is to help support and donate to the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, which is the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. completely focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
This past week he, along with United Way, gave a speech for the Red Kettle Campaign of the Salvation Army.
On Sunday, he worked the Big Brother Big Sister Telethon; and tonight, he is giving a speech to the Phillipsburg Booster Club.
“That’s part of what we do. The environment in which you live in, what do you do to make each day better?” Douds said on his philosophy of helping out in the community.
On the field, Douds is one of the most accomplished coaches in all of the NCAA in any division. Yet, the 73-year old hasn’t looked at the names he’s passing or the number of wins he has to his ledger.
“To be honest with you, I don’t know any of that stuff until our Sports Information Director, Greg Knowlden, comes in and tells me this might happen this weekend. Maybe someday I’ll get to smell the roses but you don’t have time to do that right now,” he said
It’s hard not to smell those roses. Douds leads all of Division II in games coached with 450 and continues to increase that number every time he steps on the sideline.
In a grander scheme, he is ninth all-time in games coached in all divisions and just recently passed the iconic Bear Bryant, who won six national championships with Alabama from 1958-1982.
With his 250 wins, he is now in the Top 20 all-time for most wins for any division in the NCAA.
Along with his impressive coaching record, in just his second and third year as head coach, Douds was at the helm when the 1975-76 teams went undefeated to combine for a 19-0-1 record.
That tie coming in the championship game against Shippensburg due to some confusion in conference rules. Recently, that team was inducted to ESU’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
“We had some tough guys that all loved to play the game. That was pretty neat and they played as a family,” Douds said on those two impressive teams.
41 years is a long time to do anything yet, Douds has found something that keeps him coming back for more.
He stated, “Interaction with our players and coaches are the two big things that pump up right away. I love to compete. In coaching you compete in everything you do and it’s an immediate feedback to see if you were successful or unsuccessful.”
Football is a complex game that needs a lot of preparation for the one game a team plays during the week.
When he needs to get away and work on something that isn’t football related, he smiles and chuckles when he explains where his getaway is located on campus.
“I slip in to the second floor of the library and people can’t find you,” Douds said, “and when I have to get something done and don’t want to be bothered it’s perfect. Thank goodness we have that place.”
Douds takes his philosophy of giving back and stresses to his players that come through the program the importance to be accountable on and off the field and to help out in any way they can.
When asked what he wants players to take away after their years playing for him, he said, “If they have the talent and ability, to use it to their best of their advantage. Anyone can be mediocre. Spend the extra two-percent to be great.”
He continued, “I don’t care what their talents are, but use them to make a difference in their lives, their family’s lives and the community where they live and utilize the education they received at East Stroudsburg to make it a better place.”
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