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Web letter by Jim Lambert: Coach Riley a leader by example for two generations of student-athletes

Just recently, we lost an excellent man and coach, David Riley.

Look out, heaven, here comes an educated, well-dressed man in coaching attire with a basketball. His teams have won numerous championships: girls’ state champion in 1986, a Nancy Rehm award winner in 2001, honored by the Fort Wayne Sports Corporation in 2001, inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and a physical education teacher for 41 years with a smile and intellect.

For the 40 years I had been in teaching (I retired four years ago), I saw coach work with young people with excellent character. As a fellow faculty member and coach at Franklin Jr. High School, I had a chance to see him on a daily basis.

A successful teacher and coach is an excellent self-motivator. The more that is expected, the better the performance in the school. He had self-discipline: He determined what he had to do and when it had to be done. Doing as well as he could and doing it that way all the time is how Dave prepared himself in the classroom and coaching.

Dave had accepted the challenge of preparing his students, players and family as productive and meaningful contributors in society. His leadership demonstrated the Northrop and Franklin pride and his sacred knowledge based on trust that he used to assume charge of his smart mind and body. He directed his own energy and enthusiasm. He was a prime example of the importance of conditioning mind, soul and body throughout the school day and practice. His positive mental attitude was contagious to fellow coaches and faculty members.

Dave’s most outstanding personal qualities were his honesty, cooperativeness and good humor. His desire to sacrifice and prepare to improve was a big plus for him. His willingness to give the extra time and effort to his students and players was from his heart. His humanitarianism and good humor were always evident, and he made everyone who knew him feel better about life in general.

This past January I went over to his house to visit with him and his wife, Sharon. I had not seen him in attendance at athletic events for more than a year. We talked for two hours about sports and family. He still had that gleam in his eyes with those rosy red cheeks. I shook his hand and gave him a hug. As I was leaving, he asked me to take down an angel off the Christmas tree because his wife could not reach it. Knowing what I know now, he was the angel in my teaching and coaching career; he prepared me as a productive member of today’s society.

Dave had been a significant positive figure at Franklin Jr. High and Northrop High School, and he earned my deepest respect and loyalty. Keep up the good work in heaven because young students and athletes need to be respected and educated/coached by a good Christian man.


Fort Wayne