One of county’s most popular coaches . . . Pat McDowell
By Butch Dale
Now here’s a great guy who would undoubtedly be voted as one of the most popular coaches in Montgomery County sports history. Patrick “Pat” McDowell graduated in 1956 from Lafayette Jeff, where he participated in football and served as class president his senior year. In junior high he admired his teacher and coach, John Eberle, and subsequently, while in high school, Pat coached the St. Boniface grade school basketball team for four years, with his team winning the Booster Club tourney championship. After high school, Pat headed to Purdue to obtain his bachelor’s degree in education, while serving as the Boilermaker basketball team manager all four years, and then later on obtained his Master’s degree from Indiana State.
Pat became a teacher at Coal Creek Central upon graduation, starting up their first football program in 1961. At Coal Creek, he coached varsity football from 1963-65, and varsity basketball from 1965-71. The Bearcats won their first Montgomery County basketball tourney in 1965. The weather was terrible that evening, and some boys had to ride tractors to get to the two team buses just to make it to the championship game. One bus left from Wingate, and a second bus left from New Richmond, but the boys made it to the game just in time. To celebrate their victory, Pat kept his promise to his team and walked all the way from Crawfordsville to New Richmond in some very cold weather! He had some outstanding athletes on his teams during those years, two of whom played basketball in college . . . Lee Fouts at Wabash, and Rick Haas at Indiana Central. In football, his team won the Wabash River Conference championship in 1969 and finished the season undefeated.
When the small schools closed, Pat became a teacher and coach at North Montgomery High School. He organized North’s first football team, some of the boys having never played the sport, and served as head coach from 1971-77. His team won the WRC championship two of those years. A funny incident occurred at a 7 a.m. practice one day in August, when Pat observed a player bent over “getting rid of his breakfast.” When queried as to what he had eaten, the sad-eyed player replied that the only food in the fridge was tuna salad and sliced tomatoes!
Pat stated, “The smooth transition for the consolidation of North Montgomery schools was due to the efforts of the administration, faculty and the athletic department. I am most proud to have been a part of that transition.”
When asked what he enjoyed most about coaching, Pat said he really enjoyed observing individual and team improvement during each season, the competition at various levels, and developing life-long friendships with students, athletes, parents and coaches. I saw Pat coach on numerous occasions, and I can safely say that he never lacked for enthusiasm. He could really get his athletes fired up to play, and the fans excited to cheer on the teams! And he served as a great role model for his students and the boys on his teams.
Finally, Pat told me, “For 61 years, I have been supported, propped up and pushed to be as good as I can . . . by my wife, Karen, and my four children, Shawn, Kelly, Erin and Casey. My career has been a family effort!”
Pat, the parents and fans appreciate your efforts and all you have done for the boys and girls of Montgomery County . . . Thanks, and job well done
John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.