Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

February 25, 2013

The lasting lessons of a life well lived

For some it may seem

almost like yesterday.

For others it’s a long time

ago.

But what

no one can

deny is the

impact Terry

Colaw made

on teammates,

opponents

and

even opposing

coaches

and teams.

Colaw was

a three-sport star at Southern

Garrett High, graduating in

1960, and a state champion

coach at Aberdeen in the

1970s.

A few weeks ago, Feb. 9, was

the 35th anniversary of his

sudden death from a heart

attack. He was the head coach

of Aberdeen’s basketball and

soccer teams and just 35

years old.

Determination and discipline

can take an athlete a

long way. Those were two

Colaw traits that became

apparent to everyone he

played with and against, and

to those he coached.

“He was a disciplinarian

and he made sure we were

ready to play, physically and

mentally, every game,’’ said

Aberdeen athletic director

Tim Lindecamp, who played

on Colaw’s soccer teams.

“Everyone who played for

Terry has been influenced by

him.”

Lindecamp said Cal Ripken

Jr. played soccer for Colaw

during the Hall of Famer’s

junior year at Aberdeen. After

Colaw died, a student drew a

large penciled portrait of

Colaw, and it hangs in Lindecamp’s

office today.

“One of the big things I

remember was if you were an

athlete and got in trouble in

the classroom you didn’t get

sent the office,” Lindecamp

recalled with a chuckle. “You

got sent to coach Colaw and

he would take care of things

on the field at practice.”

The fact that Aberdeen won

state championships under

Colaw’s leadership isn’t a surprise.

The fact that one came

in soccer may have been to

some.

“I don’t think Terry ever

played soccer in his life. I

don’t know if he ever kicked a

soccer ball,’’ joked Jerry Wine,

a friend of Colaw’s since their

Little League baseball days.

Didn’t matter. The

Aberdeen soccer team went

16-0-1 in its Class A (now 3A)

state championship season of

1973. It was the first soccer

state title in school history.

There has been only one other

(1979).

“If there is a key to any success

I have had in coaching it

has to be my love of sports

and the love of the boys that

play for me,’’ Colaw told the

Aegis, a Harford County newspaper,

after being named its

Coach of the Year in 1973. “All

I ask of the kids is that they do

the best they can, hustle all

the time and never give up. If

they make a mistake while

hustling, I don’t often get too

upset with them.”

In 1976, Colaw took

Aberdeen to the Class A basketball

state tournament at

College Park, which must

have felt like a Homecoming

of sorts. Also there that weekend

was Southern Garrett,

one of the Final Four teams in

Class B, and Southern’s coach

was Don Stemple, a friend and

former high school teammate.

That weekend, Aberdeen

won its first basketball state

title in 25 years. There’s been

only one since, in 2000, the

year the Eagles beat Fort Hill

61-56 in the Class 2A semifinals.

Southern lost to Gwynn

Park in the Class B final.

“We got to watch about half

of their game and I remember

Aberdeen’s kids were certainly

an extension of Terry,” said

Stemple, who later coachedthe Southern girls to a state

championship. “They played

very hard and were very

determined.”

That came as no surprise.

Determined and disciplined

could have been Colaw’s middle

names.

He was never the tallest or

biggest player on the court,

but was the first Southern

player to score 1,000 points

and is still No. 5 on the Rams’

all-time scoring list with 1,130

points.

“No matter what the sport,

Terry took it very seriously.

He was determined to make

things work and be successful,”

Stemple said. “He had

great hand-eye coordination,

and that helped make him an

excellent shooter in basketball

and a good hitter in baseball.”

Southern may have had its

high school rivals, but back in

the day and neighborhood it

was Oakland vs. Crellin.

Colaw was part of the Crellin

gang. Stemple and Wine were

members of the Oakland

opposition.

“Terry came from a very

athletic family, and a lot of the

good athletes back then were

from Crellin,” Stemple conceded.

“We’d hitch-hike back

and forth for games, usually

about three times a week in

the summertime.”

Basketball, football and

baseball. It was serious stuff.

“I remember going out for a

pass in a football game,

caught the ball, and when I

came down broke my collarbone.

They just grabbed me

and drug me off the field,”

Wine said, laughing. “It wasn’t

until after the game was over

that I was taken to the hospital.”

For basketball, the Crellin-

Oakland battles were sometimes

played at the old Center

Street playground, now the

site of the Community Action

Center in Oakland; the Crellin

Elementary School court; or

St. Peter’s Catholic School

gym. Sometimes someone

would open a window at the

high school on Friday in hopes

it would go unnoticed and

remain open so the crew

could sneak in and play in the

gym during the weekends.

“Those were great times

and Terry was a great teammate

and friend,’’ said Wine.

“I remember we beat Valley in

Don’s senior year, and Don

made a one-and-one to win

the game. We stayed up all

night at Mrs. Stemple’s house

to catch the train and see

what kind of headlines were in

the Times-News.”

The train carried the

Times-News to Oakland back

then. Valley finished 24-2 and

was Class B state champs

that year.

“We got big headlines,”

Wine said. “It said, ‘Colaw foul

shots beat Valley!’ Terry didn’t

have anything to do with it,

obviously, but he felt so badly

about it. Of course, a correction

was run the next day. I

wouldn’t be surprised if Terry

made the call to the newspaper

to report the error.”

After high school, Wine and

Colaw were roommates in

Washington, D.C. for a year.

“Terry worked at American

Security and Trust and we

played on their basketball

team in the Unlimited League

that year and went 23-0.

“Terry saved every dime he

could that year so he could go

to Frostburg State. He was so

disciplined in everything he

did.”

Terry played basketball at

Frostburg State before landing

at Aberdeen. A cousin,

Ron, played football at West

Virginia University and another

cousin, Toby, pitched in the

Pittsburgh Pirates minor

league system. Terry’s father,

Earnest, who had been nicknamed

“Bang,” some say

because of his ability to hit a

baseball so hard, played on

some of the early Frostburg

State baseball teams.

“Terry often jogged after

practice, and that’s long

before jogging became big and

popular,’’ Wine said. “He just

wanted to stay in shape. He

was disciplined and serious

about it, just like everything

else. After basketball practice

one day he went jogging,

came into the locker room,

said he didn’t feel well, and

died.”

At 35.

It’s a story with a sad ending,

for sure. What more

would Terry Colaw have

accomplished? No one knows.

What’s most telling is all that

he accomplished in only 35

years. It was more than many

have in twice that time.

Two of the chief reasons?

Determination and discipline.

They are two of the many lasting

lessons of Terry Colaw.

The Terry Colaw Award,

first presented the year after

his death, is awarded annually

to the Southern athlete who

brings the most recognition to

the high school through athletics

and academics. It is the

athletic department’s most

prestigious award.

Mike Mathews is a Cumberland

Times-News sportswriter. Write to him

at mmathews@times-news.com

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