Spalding Legends: Lee Dove

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Eddie Hagigh, Editor-in-Chief

As part of The Spalding Spirit’s quest to develop fresh content, I have decided to start a new series called “Spalding Legends”. For each article, I identify a faculty member who I think has had a particularly significant impact on the school in some capacity.
For my first interview, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Dove, a business teacher at Spalding who has had a large impact on the current state of our athletics. His story is one that is truly unique, and it affirms the noticeably positive environment that Archbishop Spalding provides to both students and teachers.

On his arrival to Spalding.
“Actually I came to Maryland because of a blind date. My best friend from college lived in Maryland, I lived in central New York, and he invited me to come down to hang with him. And while I was here, he introduced me to this young lady. A couple of weeks later I called her up and said ‘I’d like to come to Maryland again.’ […] One thing led to another and I ended up marrying her.”

“Spalding had an ad in the paper at the end of the school year for a physical education teacher. And I was living in Towson at the time, and I thought ‘Geez, Spalding is way down there around the Beltway, all that traffic, I don’t know if I want to do that.’ But I was looking for a job. I was working at a small elementary school, St. Ursula’s in Parkville, where I met Father Ryan all those years ago.”

“I really wanted to get to the secondary level. I said to my wife, ‘I’ll go down, I’ll apply. Let’s see what happens. Worse case, they offer it to me, I do it for a year, and I move on.’ That was 1986.”
“I taught PE, I taught some science: biology, health. And I coached JV and varsity basketball.”

On his transition to becoming Athletic Director.
“When the athletic director’s position came about, I decided I would like to try that, so I spoke with Mr. Pachence, my predecessor. I said to him, ‘You know, if you just made a few changes, this place is ready to pop.’ Because of highways like Route 97 and Route 100, and all of a sudden, Spalding had all these avenues for kids to get to Spalding.”

“That was a position I held for 17 years. I had to give up basketball, which I love, but it was worth the tradeoff because I got to do something else that I really found I enjoyed. Sports were always a big part of my life […] I always felt coaching would be a way to share my love of sports with others, to maybe develop the same passion. The AD position was a challenge, and I like challenges.”

On the improvement of Spalding sports to what they are today.
“For me it was never about just hanging a banner in a gym. I thought we needed to work to elevate our programs to offer the Spalding athletes the best opportunities to be competitive. And we had teams that were winning championships in the [MIAA] B Conference at the time. But I felt we could progress to the point where we could be competitive in the A, not winning championships in the A, but that’s where we would belong. Slowly, but surely, in the sports we had, we were making the transition to the A Conference, for both boys and girls programs.”

“Coach Whittles — one of my favorites of all time — he wanted to go to the A Conference. He shared that with me. He knew when he felt we were in a position to make that transition. At one time, we had the state record for losses in a row in football: 39. Once we had a JV team, we had enough interest, thanks to Coach, and the kids got experience, and then they’d move up and they’d be ready to play at the varsity level. Success has kinda bred success. Today, with Coach Schmidt at the leadership, football is very successful.”

On the career of Rudy Gay and the impact of overall success in basketball.
“We were giving them [some foreign players] the opportunity to come to the states and [for that] hopefully provide a stepping stone for some potential college opportunities. Because of the success in basketball generating interest, we were getting talented players that came here. In other sports […] that was a big selling point, was the A Conference.”
“One year, four talented Freshmen were accepted to Spalding. Everybody had a chance to get them [as far as recruiting]. And these four young men came in and really put us on the map, and we made the transition to the A, almost immediately. We had some real success there, and it lasted for a while thanks to Coach Tony Martin before and Coach Mike Glick after.”
“In the case of Rudy, [University of] Maryland wanted him really badly, [University of] Connecticut wanted him really badly as well. And I can remember Coach Calhoun from Connecticut had been to our gym several times, sat in the office, and we would talk about how things were going.”
On his current involvement with the MIAA.
“At that same exact time [of his resignation from the Spalding AD position], the Executive Director for the MIAA, Rick Diggs, was stepping down. He talked to me and said, ‘Why don’t you apply for this? You’d be great at it.’”

“There were several very qualified people who did apply. I remember saying to the board, ‘I’ve been an athletic director at a member school since the first year that the MIAA was created. I know the schools, I know the league, I know the rules, I know the community; I have an inside track, I think, that you can’t replace that type of experience.’ It must have worked because they hired me!”

“It kept me involved in sports. Sports have always been a big part of my life. I don’t know what I would have done if I wasn’t doing something sport-related.”