Sports in The Dominion Post

This article appeared in the Dominion Post Newspaper on March 25, 2003.
These days we could use more honorable men


Unfortunately, not every high school in the state had a man, teacher and coach like David Chaplin.

Chaplin died in the early hours of Sunday, March 23, leaving behind a legacy felt by every teacher and thousands of students at Morgantown High.

Talk with former MHS baseball standout Dana Berry and he can tell you about a time when playing high school sports was about having fun. Yes, winning was an important factor, but there was a lesson to be learned off the field, as well.

"He wanted to win, no doubt about it," Berry said of Chaplin, "and he taught us how to win. He was so much more than that, though. He took boys and molded them into young men. Everybody was a better person for having been around him."

Chaplin began his high school coaching career in the early 1970s, a time when winning wasn't necessarily everything and the pressures to win didn't come close to what they do today.

As evidence, MHS baseball coach Mark McCarty passes on this story about Chaplin's coaching days in the early 1980s.

"John Lowery, who is the longtime coach at Jefferson High, told me this story about Dave," McCarty said. "Morgantown and Jefferson were playing in the regional and Jefferson began warming up a kid who had already used up all of his innings."

Chaplin realized Lowery's error. All he had to do was let the kid throw one pitch in the game and Jefferson would have been forced to forfeit, and the Mohigans would have advanced to the state tournament.

"He went over to John and told him he was about to pitch an ineligible kid," McCarty continued.

Lowery used a different pitcher and Jefferson went on to win the game.

"I remember asking Dave why he just didn't let the kid pitch and go on to the state tournament?" McCarty said.

The response shows you just what kind of coach Chaplin was.

"He told me that if they were going to win the game, that he wanted to win it fairly," McCarty said.

Chaplin was a baseball man through and through and continued to help the MHS program even after he resigned as coach, in 1996.

"I think he was the most loyal fan for any school that I've ever met," McCarty said. "He would call me up in the winter and ask me about who was I going to play at second base.

"I wouldn't even be worrying about it, but he was always thinking about things like that."

Chaplin coached in a different time, much different than today.

A time when kids didn't care what position they played or fuss about where they hit in the order. Kids played to play, not in hopes of getting noticed by colleges or professional scouts.

There was no illegal transfers from one school to another, no illegal recruiting. A kid stuck it out and continued to work hard, even if he wasn't a starter, instead of having mom and dad get involved.

Make no mistake, though, Chaplin was well aware of the changes in high school sports.

"You talk about one person who has helped me deal with coaching today and that person is Dave Chaplin," MHS girls' basketball coach Allan Collins said. "All of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes along with coaching today, Dave would always have something to help me along the way."

Chaplin was a man who stressed discipline, but did it with a smile on his face and he always played by the rules.

Too bad we don't have more like him.

Return to the listing of articles of March 25, 2003.