Goose Doughty was unlike any coach I’ve ever been around.
When his players did something wrong on the basketball court, he never yelled at them. At least not that I saw. He would look down his bench, calmly tell one of his players to take off his warm-up, and the player who messed up would take a seat next to him.
Doughty would look at that player with some disbelief. He would raise his arms and verbally make a point. But he never yelled or screamed.
He treated his players with respect and they treated him with 250 City League wins at Heights during a 17-year basketball coaching career.
Doughty died over the weekend at the age of 80. He had been in ill health for a while. Just the other day, I asked former North basketball player Larry Dennis, who now oversees three recreation centers for the city of Wichita, if he had heard much from Doughty lately. Dennis said he hadn’t, but that he knew Goose – everybody called him Goose – was sick.
Doughty was passionate about kids. That showed in his coaching at Heights, but even more so in the summer tennis program he ran at McAdams Park for many years. Doughty believed in his community and wanted underprivileged kids to be subjected to a sport – tennis – that was seen as a suburban activity for the rich.
Yet so many kids played tennis at McAdams under Doughty’s watchful eye. A quiet sort, he promoted his tennis program as best he could. It was pretty much a one-man operation and one that Doughty rightly received credit and kudos for.
I always enjoyed talking to Goose. He had such an interesting background, from his playing days at Langston University in Oklahoma to a brief six-month stint with the Harlem Globetrotters. But Doughty never enjoyed talking about himself. He could come across as shy, but I don’t think that’s it. I think he was just uncomfortable talking about his accomplishments.
He much preferred talking about his Heights teams. He loved basketball but his calm and collected coaching style could lead to some undisciplined play from the Falcons. Goose’s players were never afraid of him; they regarded him more as a friend and family member than as a coach. So, when things would start to go bad, Doughty would simply shake his head on the sideline, sometimes looking upward in disbelief at some of the things he was seeing.
More often than not, though, the Heights teams coached by Doughty won. He had a 250-120 record and when he retired after the 1994-95 season he was the City League’s all-time winningest boys basketball coach. Yet Doughty’s teams at Heights never won a state championship.
The best team he had with the Falcons might have been his first, in 1978-79. It included forward Antoine Carr and guard Aubrey Sherrod, two of the best players in City League history. Both would go on to have outstanding college careers at Wichita State and Carr spent years in the NBA.
I was sad to hear of Doughty’s passing today. He made an impact on a lot of lives in Wichita and was one of the sweetest, most sincere people I’ve been around. Whenever I addressed Goose, he would cut off my greeting with, “Good, good, I’m doing good.” Or, “All right, I’m all right.”
Goose Doughty is a City League legend. More important, he’s a Wichita legend. The man made a difference. And he did so with grace.