CATSKILL — Doug Lampman won a lot of games during his 17-year tenure as head coach of the Catskill boys basketball team.
But what’s always been most important to him, much more than the success he enjoyed on the court, is helping his players become successful off of it.
“It’s more than basketball for Doug,” Catskill Athletic Director Eric Joyce said. “It’s about getting these kids ready to be adults in this world. Let’s be real, the odds of these kids going on to be professional basketball players is low. But what they are going to be is member’s of our society.
“What’s always been important to Doug is that he is making sure he is there and he prepares them for life through the game of basketball. And that’s what it’s about.
Lampman announced recently that he and assistant, Andy Jones, won’t be returning to coach the Cats this season, ending a run that included nine Patroon Conference championships and a Section II title.
“Yes, everybody wants to win basketball games, myself included, but more important than that, in 10 years, I want to see these basketball players as successful members of our society and that’s what Doug’s goal always was,” Joyce said. “That was always his No. 1 — Basketball is No. 2. I think that says a lot about him as a coach and as a person. Great coach, better person.”
Scott Hanrahan, whose Maple Hill teams have had their own share of success in the Patroon Conference, marvels at the job Lampman has done at Catskill through the years.
“Doug did a great job of resurrecting a program,” Hanrahan said. “His ability to reach out to kids and bring them from an unstable environment to a stable environment, I think, has been something that’s been remarkable for him and their program and their school.
“He cares so much about those kids and that program and he tries to create a family. That’s what it is for him, trying to create an environment of stability and comfort and home for his kids, because he cares about them.
Catskill has never had a shortage of great players, but Hanrahan questions whether the Cats would have been as successful without Lampman’s leadership.
“He’s had such great players and athletes come through: the Brantleys, Lavon (Fernandez), DeVon Haye — and DeVon Haye is a beast,” Hanrahan said. “I don’t know how well those kids do with another guy because Doug has the ability to bring them in and make them part of the family and buy in to what he’s telling them.”
Lampman and Hanrahan both served on the Section II committee and would often ride together to meetings and talk shop.
“We would ride up to these meetings together and we’d just talk and he would tell me Andy Jones would do all his subbing and I’d say ‘are you crazy?’ And he’d tell me how much he trusts Andy. ‘that’s his job, that’s his role,’ he would say.
“He would tell me that if Andy said this kid has to go in the game, he’d put him in because he trusts Andy. I’ve never heard of any coach doing that. But that’s Doug. He trusts his people to do the jobs that they’re supposed to do. Doug doesn’t take credit for anything. His kids get all the credit. He would credit Andy before he’d give it to himself. And Andy will be missed, too. Talk about a quality individual.”
Lampman always put the athletes first, but not just his own. He’d often reach out to opposing players with words of encouragement
“A few years ago we had a practice together before sectionals,” Hanrahan said. “We ran out guys together, he ran some drills, we ran some drills and that was his idea. The camaraderie he brought to our guys was amazing. He cares more about my son’s success than however many wins he has and his own basketball success. That’s 100% who he is.
“My son Tyler would say to me ‘there’s no other coach I’d rather lose to than Doug Lampman.’ And he’s serious about that. That’s the kind of respect that Doug Lampman gets from players in our league. He just comes out and cares about kids. He’s a teacher. He teaches kids, he cares about them, he cares about their success.”
Veteran referee Brian Skelly, who serves as the Section II Southern Assigner for IAABO (International Approved Association of Basketball Officials), says working any game Lampman coached was always a pleasure
“I’ve known Doug a long time,” Skelly said. “I was a referee when he was a player at Cairo-Durham. As officials, when coaches never shut up, we tend not to listen too much, yelling all the time up and down. One thing about Doug, when he would say something we would listen because he didn’t say much, so we may have made a mistake. When Doug says something you wanted to listen to him. And any time you would approach Doug or Doug approached you, he did it with respect. You never had to worry about Doug.
“I know I never gave Doug a technical foul. I don’t know how many technicals Doug had in his coaching career, but I know I never gave him one. He was always respectful and you could talk to him, even if he didn’t always agree with you.
“I thought he did a wonderful job with the kids. If a kid got out of hand on the court, you never had to say anything, Doug would already take him out. Doug could see it before an official had to say anything because he knew the kid was getting himself in trouble and he’d get him out of the game. I had a lot of respect for Doug and we’re going to miss him, not only as a coach, but as a person. He is a very good fella, was an excellent coach and just an all-around good guy. He’s a class act.”
Even though he’s stepping away from coaching, at least for the time being, Lampman will remain a teacher at Catskill as working with youngsters remains his passion.
“He taught me it’s more than just sports,” Joyce said. “We have to prepare these kids for life. From Doug’s perspective, he prepares them for life through basketball. The man loves basketball. Through his love for the game, he prepares the young men for life.
“There are a lot of guys that don’t want to do that and just want to win basketball games. Doug has been able to do both. He’s been able to win a tremendous amount of basketball games as well as prepare young men for life. Life’s not always fair. You have to earn things in life, just like you have to earn them on the basketball court. Nothing is ever given to you. A lot of people learn that the hard way.”
Hanrahan said Lampman will be missed by more than just his players.
“He’s one of my favorite people, but don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s not coaching there anymore because that’s a harder win for us when he’s there,” Hanrahan joked. “I will miss seeing him the two times a year we’d go out and meet on the basketball court. We’d talk about our kids and we’d talk about our families. I’m going to miss him as a friend, as a competitor and as someone who truly cares about kids and making quality young men. And along with doing all of that, he won basketball games.
“I plan to continue our friendship past basketball and I hope when we go to play at Catskill that he’s there. He’s a quality individual and the Patroon Conference is really going to miss him and what he brought. There’s just not enough good things I can say about Doug.”