June 16, 2004

A Father's Day Tribute to Wayne Colman

Guest Columnist

Editorís Note: June is always a big month for the senior athletes at area high schools. There is graduation and the end of their scholastic careers - plus Fatherís Day.
During previous Junes, Tom Williams has turned over his column to Stephanie Gaitley, Matt Woolley, Jeff Boyd, Allison Rinck, Tracey LeFever, Shaune McLaughlin and Erik Geisinger, among others, to write about their fathers.
This week, Absegami High School football coach Doug Colman - a former football star at Ocean City High School, the University of Nebraska and in the NFL - writes about his father, Wayne, who coached track and football at OCHS and is retiring as a teacher this month after nearly three decades.

These days, it is getting harder to find professional athletes who are positive role models. I was fortunate. I had one at home - my father, Wayne Colman.

Each of us has someone who has inspired us in our lifetime. My father has been my inspiration throughout the past 31 years. I modeled myself after him as a child and find myself doing the same as an adult. I have seen him as a husband, father, teacher, coach, lifeguard, fisherman and now, grandfather. Whatever he does, he does it whole-heartedly and with love.

My father began teaching and coaching 27 years ago after a nine-year career in the NFL. He has many professional accomplishments within his career. In fact, he was just recently inducted into the New Jersey High School Coaches Hall Of Fame. My father is a very humble guy, but I know he was excited about his induction.

While I was growing up he never talked much about playing professional football. It wasnít until a friend gave me his football card for him to sign that I understood the significance. As children, my siblings and I had over-inflated ideas that our father was indestructible. We affectionately called him ďBad DadĒ. My brother and I would have arguments over what Super Heroes he could defeat.

During my high school years at Ocean City, my father was my coach in both football and track & field. After I decided to attend the University of Nebraska, he stepped down from the head football coaching position to support me through my college years. Now, almost fifteen years later, I am a head coach and he is still there giving me guidance and support.

As a professional football player, I always felt secure knowing my father had been in the same situations and faced challenges and adversities similar to those that I was facing. On game days I knew he was in the stands watching, wishing and praying for me to find success and to stay injury-free. At the end of games, I always appreciated my Dadís perspective - whether it was good or bad.

Overall, my fatherís influences have brought me from a professional football career to the teaching profession and on to fatherhood. It has been special for me to follow in my fatherís footsteps as an NFL player and, even more so, as a teacher and coach. I know I will also find the same satisfaction he has found as a father.

After 27 years, Wayne Colman is retiring from teaching at Ocean City High School. I know he will be missed greatly by students and faculty. At his retirement dinner his colleagues spoke with deep emotion, sharing the fellowship theyíd had with him for all those years. They love him as a teacher, coach, mentor and friend and I want him to know that we love him as a father.

Happy retirement, Dad, from the entire family. You deserve it. And a very Happy Fatherís Day!

Read more of Tom Williams' columns