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Cancer takes Olympia High teacher, coach Todd McDougall

Todd McDougall, the coach who built Olympia High School’s baseball program into a consummate winner, died Saturday morning at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia after a seven-month battle with brain cancer.

He was 43.

“It was very quick and peaceful,” said Julie McDougall, Todd’s wife.

She said her husband, whose brain cancer diagnosis came in December 2012, had been on a slow decline for the past week and was admitted to the hospital after complications arose Friday.

A few weeks ago, McDougall returned home after spending recent months at the Puget Sound Healthcare Center, a nursing facility in Olympia.

He is survived by his mother, Marylou; sister, Vickie McDougall; brother, Barrie McDougall; wife, Julie; and their children, 12-year-old daughter Marlee and 9-year-old sons Andrew and Dylan.

Services are pending.

McDougall coached baseball and football at Olympia for 20 years, building a reputation as a demanding coach who expected nothing but hard work and dedication from his players — and leaving an imprint on the students he taught and the athletes he coached.

A Tacoma native born June 25, 1970, McDougall focused on football and baseball at Stadium High School in the mid- and late 1980s. He was a starting quarterback and safety in football and also was an all-league infielder in baseball.

McDougall played college baseball at Green River Community College and Whitworth University, primarily at third base and catcher.

In 1992, the Olympia School District hired McDougall, 22, to teach English at Olympia High.

In his 20 seasons as the Bears’ head baseball coach, McDougall built a program envied by many: nine 4A Narrows League titles — all since 2001 — with a 160-49 win-loss record during that span. He also spent 20 seasons as an assistant football coach, the past 12 years as defensive coordinator.

This spring, under the direction of interim coach Greg Creighton, the Olympia baseball team won its sixth straight 4A Narrows League title and advanced to the 4A regional in a season dedicated to their ailing coach. Creighton called McDougall “probably the best coach I’ve been around.”

“He was a special guy,” Creighton said.

McDougall’s best season as a head coach came in 2008, when the Bears — led by Adam Conley and Kramer Champlin, both of whom pitch in the minor leagues — went 23-3 and earned a third-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament.

Champlin, currently a relief pitcher for the Single-A Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, said his relationship with McDougall felt more like a friendship as time went on.

“He taught me a lot about baseball and made it fun,” Champlin said. “Most coaches move on to the next team, but he really stuck around with everyone and checked in on them.”

It’s been five years since Conley, now pitching for the Double-A Jacksonville (Fla.) Suns in the Miami Marlins organization, played for Olympia, but he still carries with him life lessons learned from McDougall.

“Part of what made him such a good coach is that he understood in most instances, whether talking about baseball or football, there’s bigger implications in life than winning and losing games,” Conley said. “He understood that.”

McDougall’s impact stretched into the classroom, too, as a well-liked educator.

Olympia High Principal Matt Grant called McDougall a leader in the school’s English department and praised his passion and enthusiasm for learning. McDougall frequently engaged in class discussions and conversations with students, he added.

“Students were excited to learn,” Grant said. “He was a kid magnet and very relationship-oriented. Kids got connected to the subject by his relationship.”

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473
mwochnick@theolympian.com

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