by Jessie Daw
has, in true servant-leadership fashion, quietly but steadily
led grass roots tennis in the Spearfish area for over 20 years.
His reach in promoting the game has been extensive, and the
community has definitely reaped the benefits.
Born in Belle Fourche, SD, Doug’s family moved to Southern
California where he attended grade school and middle school.
They then spent a few years in Boulder, CO, before moving to
Spearfish, where Doug finished his last two years of high
school. In those days (1970’s), both skiing and tennis were
among the most popular sports in the US, and Doug and his
friends participated in both. They taught themselves the game of
tennis, and watched professional tennis on TV. They tried to get
a Spearfish tennis team going but couldn’t find anyone to coach
the team. Black Hills State University had a team at the time,
and upon high school graduation he enrolled and played a few
years for the Yellow Jackets, bringing home a few runner-up
placements in singles (4th flight) and doubles (2nd flight) in
the South Dakota Intercollegiate Conference.
Doug, who has been USPTA certified in recreational tennis, has
coached the high school tennis teams at Spearfish for over 20
years, taking over from Maury Etem, who started the tennis
program. With a no-cut policy in place, Doug displays true care
and concern for all of his players. Beth Bentley, the mother of
one of Doug’s former team members, shared the following: "Doug
sets a good example and is a role model for many reasons: the
way he coaches - not yelling, treating players with respect,
being positive, expecting great moral character on and off the
court, and listening to them and trying to help them if they
have a problem. He cares. I remember situations with team
difficulties, and Doug would engage a school counselor to help
improve team dynamics. Not many coaches would go that ‘extra
mile’. He puts God First, then family, then school, and then
tennis, and teaches that to the kids by example.” When he first
started coaching high school tennis, he did so on a voluntary
basis. It is not an understatement to say that, without his
involvement, Spearfish probably wouldn’t have a high school
Doug’s tennis impacts aren’t limited to the school setting,
though. He has also regularly provided tennis lessons in the
community, either in conjunction with the Parks program or, when
they discontinued tennis programming, on his own. He has taught
kids ages 3 and up in the summertime, and also at the Spearfish
Rec and Aquatic center in the months of January and February. He
has also taught adults through the community programming, as
Tennis courts are an important part of the game, as having a
nice tennis complex can attract more players to the game. Doug
attended United States Tennis Association (USTA) community
tennis workshops and brought back information that led to the
group working with the Spearfish School District and the City of
Spearfish to build 6 new courts at the Spearfish High School.
Part of this work included pursuing (and obtaining) grants from
the USTA. Prior to this 6-court complex, there were 3 courts at
the middle school and a couple at BHSU (the BHSU courts have
since been demolished).
During the academic year, Doug helps with Monday Night Tennis at
the Young Center on the campus of BHSU. This program provides an
opportunity for those middle school-aged through adults to play
tennis through the winter months, and includes drills and match
play. Doug has also worked with local PE teachers to help them
with integrating tennis in their curriculum.
Doug is a founding member of the Spearfish Tennis Association,
which started up in 2006. This group has provided a solid
presence of support for tennis in the community, including (but
not limited to): operating its own website; offering
memberships; providing lessons and play opportunities, including
tournaments; hosting Tennis Block parties; starting an area
Tennis Hall of Fame; collaborating with the local pickleball
association; facilitating court maintenance and repair (e.g.,
surface, nets, windscreens, etc.); maintaining equipment
inventory; and pursuing 501c3 status for the organization.
Doug has also taught skiing full time during the ski season at
Terry Peak for many years. While he teaches all ages, he is
known as the “Big Dog” for the Snow Puppies ski lessons (the
little kiddos). He has been a long-time certified ski instructor
through the Professional Ski Instructors of America. He also
cares for over a dozen cabins, providing upkeep and maintenance,
and thus facilitating for many visitors the opportunity to enjoy
the beauty of Spearfish Canyon.
Doug is also active in various ministry capacities at St.
Joseph’s parish in Spearfish, serving at various times with
youth ministry, adult and youth religious education, and
currently helping with confirmation. He also is engaged with the
Montessori-based program called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
It’s clear that Doug’s influence in tennis and beyond is broad
and meaningful, in many different ways. He has served the
Spearfish tennis community without seeking recognition or
accolades for his efforts; instead, he has served the game
because of his love for the game and for his community.
Spearfish has benefited greatly from his involvement, and the
South Dakota Tennis Hall of Fame is honored to recognize him
with the South Dakota Tennis Achievement Award.