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George Doring
Green Wave coach

For nearly a quarter-century in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, countless New Milford High School athletes benefited from the guidance and coaching experience of George Doring.


Whether coaching track & field or cross country, whether guiding the fortunes of boys or girls, George displayed an inimitable blend of leadership and seriousness of purpose, and wit, always with that special Doring touch of wit.


George had been a record-setting, Massachusetts state champion sprinter at North Quincy High School and then excelled in track & field at nearby Brandeis University to such a standard that he one day would be inducted into the Judges’ athletic hall of fame.


When he arrived at NMHS in 1963, George dove quickly into coaching at NMHS almost as soon as he had started what was to be his long career as a Spanish teacher in 1963.


t was a natural transition for George to serve as an assistant to head boys’ track & field coach Russell Devin at NMHS. For the next six spring seasons, the legendary coach Devin offered to George a master class in high school coaching, all the while benefiting from his assistant’s intuitive knack for inspiring the student athletes.


The Green Wave flourished with coaches Devin and Doring showing the way, and George found coaching to be a staple of his career as an educator.


By the fall of ’66, George added assistant coaching with the fledgling Green Wave football program to his schedule. Wins were few and often far between, but George helped get the NMHS gridiron program on its feet through six seasons.


Coach Devin became interim Principal Devin during the 1969-70 school year, which gave George the chance to take his first turn as a head coach. He and a strong cast of track & field athletes rose to the occasion to post a 6-1 record and claim the Western Connecticut Conference’s Northern Division championship.


The next spring, coach Doring and the Green Wave raced through an 8-0 campaign to win the ’71 WCC title.


Coach Devin returned as head coach the following spring, but George’s next opportunity to head coach came just over a year later. The ex-sprinter took charge of the Green Wave’s perennially strong boys’ cross country program. He proceeded to employ training techniques for both short- and long- distance runners to keep the team at the forefront of the WCC for the next eight seasons.


The Green Wave swept to back-to-back WCC championships in the autumns of ’72 and ‘73 before arch-rival Bethel began a remarkable, five-year, 76-meet win skein and consecutive WCC titles. Each year, George and his NMHS harriers were runners up to the Wildcats.


That led to the 1979 season, which was to culminate with perhaps the high point of George’s coaching career and one of the memorable upsets in NMHS sports history.


Bethel had eased past the Green Wave, 17-40, in their regular season meeting and appeared a sure thing to echo that victory when the two harrier packs met just seven days later in the league’s annual meet between Briggs and Wild division winners at Joel Barlow High School in Redding.


However, George’s gallant squad capitalized on the absence of a top Wildcat runner and, with coach Doring offering boisterous cheerleading at various points along the course, captured a stunning, 27-28 triumph to win the WCC title.


Any time a team achieves such a remarkable upset, credit should go to the athletes in the field or, in this case, on the course. Yet everyone there that day knew the architect, the master planner, as it were, had been coach Doring.


The victory was to close the books on George’s eight-season tenure as boys’ cross country coach, a run that included a record of 61-10-1 and three league championships.


Even while he had been coaching the NMHS boys’ harrier squad, George had quietly helped to build a girls’ cross country program, guiding the Green Wave distaff team to an 8-2 record in its first season in 1976, following that up with a 5-1 record in ’77 and sharing the coaching reins with fellow NMHS teacher Joann Opulski to post an 8-4 record in ’78.


There were no WCC titles available at that point for the girls, but their 21-7 record during George’s short tenure established a secure foundation for a program destined to win league, state and New England championships.


When coach Devin suffered a stroke and was unable to coach Green Wave boys’ track & field in the spring of 1980, George once again stepped in to guide the team to a 7-1 league record and a share of the WCC championship with Bethel. That brief return engagement completed George’s years guiding that program, finishing with a meet record of 22-4 and two WCC titles.


Busy in the early ‘80s in New Milford town government as the long-time Zoning Commission chairman, and in school with such responsibilities as Spanish department chairman, George might then have thought his coaching days were behind him.


However, come springtime ’84, he once again found himself prepping a team for its challenges to come. This time it would be Green Wave girls’ track & field, a program replete with considerable talent and plenty of confidence.


As it turned out, George was the right coach at the right time. His experienced hand at the helm and his skill at employing his corps of talented athletes to the team’s best advantage soon transformed the Green Wave into a WCC juggernaut.


The NMHS girls steamrolled their league rivals en route to consecutive records of 10-0, 12-0 and 10-0, stamping George’s team as one of the most dominant in its sport in WCC annals.


Newtown upset the Green Wave, 65-62, during the ’87 regular season, yet George and his girls would bounce back, as champions do, to win a league title one more time for coach Doring. That 6-1 season polished off a 38-1, four-season championship ride for the Green Wave.


The overall Doring ledger as an NMHS head coach reads 142-22-1, with nine WCC championships of 15 possible. Those are Athletic Hall of Fame numbers, for sure.


Yet it was his wisdom, coaching guidance and willingness to serve as mentor to so many hundreds of young student-athletes that made George Doring so richly deserving of a place in the NMHS AHOF, proudly alongside New Milford High School’s other all-time coaching greats.

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