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Doug Roorda’s Friends and Co-Workers Pay Their Respects

Doug Roorda during an appearance on Thunder Radio’s Coffee Coaches Show

Word spread quickly on Wednesday of the death of Westwood Middle School science teacher and golf coach Doug Roorda. Roorda, who began his teaching career in August of 1988, coached football, basketball and golf during his 32 year career at Westwood Junior High/Westwood Middle School. Thunder Radio sports reached out to some of his present and former teachers and coaching counterparts for their thoughts about Coach Roorda and they are brought to you below. At press time, funeral arrangements for Coach Roorda had not been released.

“WMS is deeply saddened at the passing of Mr. Doug Roorda.  Mr. Roorda was a teacher, coach, colleague, and friend.  His love for science will always be remembered at WMS.  He was dedicated to his students and their academic gains.  He made learning fun and eventful by dressing up to fit the “mad scientist” part for an experiment or bringing in special activities that sparked curiosity in the eyes of his students.  Mr. Roorda was always willing to help WMS in any way possible.  He has volunteered numerous hours to different sports when they needed an extra hand.  Golf was a love of his and he shared that love with the students by growing the WMS golf team.  Doug Roorda will be missed greatly by teachers, staff, and students at WMS.  WMS will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers during this time.  This quote sums up Mr. Roorda in his classroom: “I wasn’t born to ‘just teach.’ I was born to inspire others, to change people and to never give up; even when aced with challenges that seem impossible.” – Julie Miller, principal – Westwood Middle School

“Doug Roorda was an integral part of Manchester City Schools and Westwood Middle School.  He was respected and loved by his peers, his students, and the families of our school system.  Coach Roorda was quick with a smile and impacted many young lives.  He will be greatly missed.” – Dr. Joey Vaughn, Director of Schools – Manchester City School System

“He loved sports and science and he was always ready to talk to you about either one! I have had several of his former students call me and tell me how much they loved his class and loved him as a teacher.  He left a lasting impression on several generations of students.  Whenever I ‘m out and I tell them that I teach at Westwood they always ask about him.” – Jim Dobson, athletic director – Westwood Middle School

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“As the principal at Westwood Junior High School, I was seeking to fill a vacancy for 8th grade Earth Science and boys basketball coach.  It was late May of 1988 that I phoned several Tennessee colleges and universities and asked that they post my search.  I received a few inquiries, one of which was from a young man named Doug Roorda.  Doug has just received a Master’s Degree in Earth and Space Science from the University of Tennessee Knoxville.  Doug had received his Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from Purdue University.  Doug’s allegiance was always to the Boilermakers of Purdue. I narrowed my interviews to three people based upon their qualifications. Academically, Doug was far and away the best candidate for the teaching position. Quite frankly, he was not the number one candidate for the coaching position.  However, my allegiance was to the academic excellence of Westwood Junior High School students. Therefore, my recommendation to the Superintendent of Schools was for Doug to join the Rocket family.  Doug was excited about joining our team, and became a Rocket for the remainder of his life. The eighth grade science curriculum, in those days, was taught from a textbook titled “Earth Science”. I always enjoyed dropping in on Doug’s classes.  When I was in Doug’s classroom he was not only teaching his students, but he was teaching me as well. I remember us having brief conversations about what he had taught that day. You see, he had motivated me as well as his students. Doug was a highly qualified teacher and did a good job in the classroom.  He was a dedicated coach who was committed to his players. I knew that he cared about his students and players, and would go the extra mile for them. I knew the players were safe with him, and he would never curse a player.  I thank Doug for inspiring my confidence in him during that 1988-89 school year. I thank Doug for being my colleague and friend. I thank him for serving the students of Westwood. R.I.P. my friend.” – Pat Barton, former principal – Westwood Middle School

“I had the honor to know and work with Doug his entire career at Westwood Middle School. Doug was a quality teacher, coach and person. I was able to observe Doug personally in the classroom and on the basketball court. Doug was a Science teacher who was a master teacher of children. He was a coach who was a master at motivating and inspiring the best from his athletes. He was highly respected by his students, other coaches, and his peers. Doug was the embodiment of ROCKET PRIDE and will be sorely missed by me personally and by the entire Manchester City School Family.” – Gary Dyer, former coach/teacher – Westwood Middle School and administrator – Manchester City School System

“Doug was one of the most dedicated coach/teachers  I ever worked with. We worked together for several years, and he became one of my best friends.” – Joel Vinson, former coach/teacher – Westwood Middle School

“Doug and I became friends when I started coaching golf twelve years ago. He took me under his wing and taught me everything I needed to know about coaching golf. With us having to share Willowbrook, we honestly became one team even though we coached separate ones. We quickly figured out we balanced each other well. He was great at giving the beginning speeches and I was good at collecting the scores. Every spring was like a reunion for us. We would ride in the golf cart together during matches talking about vacations, family, the school year, and of course golf. He introduced me to one of my favorite drinks, the Arnold Palmer (tea and lemonade) and every year at Riverbend we both would get one before heading out on the course. He was passionate about his family, teaching, and coaching golf. He was always willing to help all golfers on their game whether they were on his team or not. Every year at the first practice I could count on hearing a voice say “Hey there coach.”  I will miss him terribly. Until I see you again one day, rest easy coach.”  – Holly Rodriquez, golf coach/teacher – Coffee County Middle School

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“I remember first meeting Coach Roorda in the Fall of 1988. I was a brand new 8th grader, and I believe he was a brand new teacher fresh out of Purdue University. Coach Roorda was my Science teacher, basketball, and football coach at WJHS for 2 seasons. We had some very memorable moments during those 2 years. To many to write them all down, but I would like to share one of those memories as I reflect on the time I shared with Coach Doug Roorda. It was the 89′-90′ basketball season. His 2nd year as coach. I was now in the 9th grade. We had lost to County (CCJHS) in every sport we had played them in for the past two seasons…three if you counted football. Not only lost but lost bad. Until December of 1989. We finally beat them on our home court. I remember Coach Roorda was so proud of his boys in blue that night and we were equally proud of him. We were proud to call him our coach…Weswood’s coach. At the end of the season we had our awards banquet. We presented Coach with the game ball from that night. Each of us had signed it. As Coach Roorda received the ball tears were rolling down his face and most of ours as well. We knew that he loved us and we loved him right back. It was an emotional time we all shared together. One that I will cherish more now than ever. Coach Roorda was a giver. Thanks to him countless numbers of students were given their own special memory. Memories they could pass on. Memories from a man who will never be forgotten.” – Chad Dyer, football coach/teacher – Westwood Middle School

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin “Not only did I have the privilege of working with Mr. Roorda, I was also fortunate enough to be his student many years ago. He was a great teacher and a friend. I will miss his lunch visits, he made it a point to venture down to the sixth grade hallway and chat with us. School wil never be the same. You will forever be in our hearts.” – Amanda Sullivan, teacher/coach – Westwood Middle School

“When I was transferred to Westwood Jr. High (it was a Jr. High at the time) Doug was one of the most helpful teachers.  He always had the time to answer any questions I had and always with a smile on his face.  One of my favorite memories is when Doug would show up to school with his homemade brownies.  This would happen quite often and the joy he had in making his colleagues smile just shows what a huge heart he had.  I’ll miss his dry sense of humor, his brilliant mind, his crazy costumes and his passion for teaching.” – Angela Houck, teacher/coach – Westwood Middle School

“Doug was an amazing teacher who had a positive impact on so many students, parents, friends, and peers. He really loved working with kids and trying to make a positive impact by making a connection with kids through science and sports. He was an exceptional coach in multiple sports and was a true Rocket to his core. His dedication to his school was second to none. He was a loyal assistant to me for 6 seasons. He had a diverse basketball mind and a love for the game. He was an explorer. Always up for a trip or an adventure. Ready to explore and experience. Someone who could enjoy a solo trip to Alaska or a group trip to Murfreesboro. I really don’t have the appropriate words…We were texting that day during a virtual faculty meeting just joking around as always. I will miss him. Westwood will miss him. Westwood will not be the same. I have never known Westwood without Doug. Sad …” – Will Pannell, teacher/coach – Westwood Middle School

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“Coach Roorda was one of the most positive and outgoing people  I’ve ever known. I can’t recall ever having a negative discussion with him. He seemed to enjoy life to the fullest, and I loved keeping up with all of his excursions.” – Matt Vinson, teacher/coach – Coffee County School System

“I was heartbroken to hear about my friend/co-worker Doug Roorda.  I worked with him for 5 years and he was the best!  He was an amazing teacher!  He always knew what to do to keep the kids engaged!  I wanted to be a student in his class.  Sometimes during planning I would walk by and peak in his room just to see what they were doing. He got to work just before me in the mornings and played his music loud enough for us all to hear!  Always laid back and smiling.  Rest easy Roorda!  You will be greatly missed!” – Heather Sulkowski, former teacher/coach – Westwood Middle School

“I had the privilege of working with Doug ten years. We coached and taught together. I have used many word to describe Doug including brilliant, talented, and caring. By far, the one that stands out right now is unflappable. He was a rock. He will be missed” – Kenny Lockhart, former teacher/coach – Westwood Middle School

“This quote is one that he listed on Facebook in the details about Doug section… “There are dreams of love, life, and adventure in all of us. But we are also sadly filled with reasons why we shouldn’t try. These reasons seem to protect us, but in truth they imprison us. They hold life at a distance. Life will be over sooner than we think. If we have bikes to ride and people to love, now is the time.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross  Sadly I did not have a chance to work with him for very long. What time I did share with him, he was a great guy that wanted the best for his students. Was very quiet and laid back.” – Jonathan Shedd, teacher – Westwood Middle School 

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“Coach Roorda was a lifelong coach and educator, 30+ years, who influenced many young lives in Manchester.  He will be missed both in and out of the classroom.” – David Vinson, teacher/coach – Coffee County School System

“I’ve known Doug for many years. I considered him a friend and fellow colleague. I know Doug was a teacher who cared for his students and was very serious about his teaching and coaching responsibilities. He will be missed by his friends, family, and the entire school community of Manchester and Coffee County! You will be missed!!!” – Stan Jarrell, former coach/teacher – Coffee County CHS

“Because of his email “roordad,” the kids all called him “Roordaddy.” I think that speaks volumes.” – Sharon Hansen, teacher – Westwood Middle School

When talking to a young coach at Westwood on Wednesday night, he told me the story about how he had asked Coach Roorda about me when I first started covering middle school sports for Thunder Radio in 2012. Coach Roorda told him that I was a Rocket supporter and he could trust me because I would do right by the players. That says a lot about who Doug Roorda really was. He was concerned about protecting and promoting the kids. It is my prayer that I always have and always will do right by “the kids.” Rest in Peace Doug, I will miss you in so many ways. – Dennis Weaver, Sports DirectorThunder Radio

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