Former Gettysburg High School standout athlete Lawrence Williams looks at pictures of Jim Dooley and still can't quite believe he's gone.

In photos from the spring, Dooley looks much like the man who stalked the sidelines of Gettysburg High School when Williams graduated in 1999.

Same khaki dress pants, same blue button-up, same V-neck sweater, the tie already loosened before the game starts, he said, offering it from memory. The scouting report is hanging out of his back pocket, and who could forget those saddle shoes?

"You knew you were playing against Coach Dooley, no matter how far or close you were sitting," Williams, who served as an assistant boys' basketball coach at Dover, said of his former coach.

Several coaches, past and present, as well as former athletes mourned Dooley's absence on Friday after learning he died of renal failure, a complication that came after his battle with aplastic anemia, a rare disease that causes bone marrow to stop making red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets for the body.

The Pennsylvania Basketball Hall of Fame coach inspired Williams and other countless players before they ever hit the high school arena. When Williams moved to Gettysburg from Philadelphia in eighth grade, he knew very little about organized sports, but Dooley took an immediate liking to him. He told Williams that no matter what he wanted to do, he would get out of it what he put in.


"He didn't care where you came from, what you looked like, or what your economic situation was," Williams said. "From the day he met you, he knew your name, remembered what you talked about, and you knew he cared about people."

Williams ended up being a quarterback and point guard for several talented Gettysburg teams in high school. He played defensive back at Lehigh University, graduating with a degree in history. He received national attention prior to the 2004 NFL draft. Now, he is a teacher at River Rock Academy in Spring Grove. He attributes each of those steps to Dooley.

"I feel more hurt and upset now than when my own dad passed away in January," he said. "He was truly my father. He would get on me if I did something wrong, and when I got it right he would praise me. God couldn't have created a better man than Coach Dooley."

Gettysburg's all-time girls' basketball scoring leader Carrie McMaster, formerly Maitland, was one of the only girls attending Dooley's basketball camp in Gettysburg in the late 1980s. She said Dooley was not only supportive, but a driving force in her basketball career.

"He just saw us as basketball players," she said. "A girl, a boy, it didn't matter. I wasn't going to help him win any games, but he just loved basketball and he loved kids."

Former Gettysburg athletes weren't the only coaches molded by Dooley's influence. Hershey coach Paul Blackburn said Dooley taught him about true class from the moment he met him.

When Blackburn got his first job in the area at Delone Catholic in 1994, it was Dooley, then at Gettysburg, who first called to congratulate him. When Blackburn took over a struggling East Pennsboro team in 1996, Dooley's Warriors went on the road and beat him in a tight contest.

"After I dismissed my team, Coach Dooley came and talked with me for 20 minutes," he said. "He gave me words of encouragement and thoughtful ideas. He wants all coaches to be successful. He is a coach's coach."

Sometimes Dooley's enthusiasm almost went too far. Bishop McDevitt coach Jeff Hoke joked that he had to institute a "Dooley Rule" at is house after McDevitt victories, unplugging the phone after his wife fell asleep on the night of victories.

"Coach Dools would call me after he saw our winning score, sometimes after 11:30 at night, to celebrate the win with me," Hoke said.

Hoke said Dooley taught him how to handle a range of challenges: kids, parents, adversity and humility in victory and defeat.

"Most of all, he taught me how to make sure the kids knew I cared," he said. "To attack each practice with enthusiasm and passion, like it's the first or last you'll ever have."

Contact Adam Michael at 637-3736 ext. 123

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