Admirers reflect on Buddy Teevens’ influence on their lives through the decades

Larry McElreavy, Newport High's head football coach on Sept. 9, 2015, in Newport, N.H.

Larry McElreavy, Newport High's head football coach on Sept. 9, 2015, in Newport, N.H.

Dartmouth College football place kicker Foley Schmidt practices under the gaze and stopwatch of head coach Buddy Teevens. The holder is Michael Reilly and Big Green super fan Winnie Stearns is on the far left.

Dartmouth College football place kicker Foley Schmidt practices under the gaze and stopwatch of head coach Buddy Teevens. The holder is Michael Reilly and Big Green super fan Winnie Stearns is on the far left. valley news photographs — Tris Wykes

Brian Mann

Brian Mann

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens gives an interview on April 12, 2017, on Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H.

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens gives an interview on April 12, 2017, on Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H. Valley News file photograph — Tris Wykes

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens walks off the Blackman Fields with player Darryl Mobley after the receiver broke his leg during practice on Sept. 21, 2017, in Hanover, N.H.

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens walks off the Blackman Fields with player Darryl Mobley after the receiver broke his leg during practice on Sept. 21, 2017, in Hanover, N.H. valley news file — Tris Wykes

Joey McIntyre, Dartmouth College's director of football operations, watches an Oct. 15, 2015, practice on the Blackman Fields in Hanover, N.H.

Joey McIntyre, Dartmouth College's director of football operations, watches an Oct. 15, 2015, practice on the Blackman Fields in Hanover, N.H.

Buddy Teevens, left, and Joe Nastri, right, flank Dartmouth College freshman football coach Wayne Donner during the 1975 season. The pair captained the freshman team and later the varsity as seniors, when they helped the Big Green win the Ivy League title.

Buddy Teevens, left, and Joe Nastri, right, flank Dartmouth College freshman football coach Wayne Donner during the 1975 season. The pair captained the freshman team and later the varsity as seniors, when they helped the Big Green win the Ivy League title. —Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens, left, speaks with Tom and Kim Hoyt of West Lebanon, before the Big Green's Aug. 25, 2019, practice the Blackman Fields. The Hoyts are longtime participants in the program's mentor program, pairing local adults with Dartmouth players for support.

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens, left, speaks with Tom and Kim Hoyt of West Lebanon, before the Big Green's Aug. 25, 2019, practice the Blackman Fields. The Hoyts are longtime participants in the program's mentor program, pairing local adults with Dartmouth players for support.

Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino rests during a Sept. 10, 2019, practice on Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H.

Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino rests during a Sept. 10, 2019, practice on Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H.

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens conducts an interview with Valley News sports editor and columnist Don Mahler on the Blackman Fields after a 2009 practice.

Dartmouth College head football coach Buddy Teevens conducts an interview with Valley News sports editor and columnist Don Mahler on the Blackman Fields after a 2009 practice.

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 09-26-2023 5:50 PM

HANOVER — Last week’s death of Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens created a tide of grief and an avalanche of memories from his friends and acquaintances throughout the Upper Valley and far beyond. The 66-year old succumbed to injuries suffered in March when the bicycle he was riding was struck by a pickup truck on a Florida coastal highway.

The Valley News sought remembrances from a dozen people who knew Teevens well at various stages of his life. From being one of nine children growing up in southeast Massachusetts, to his playing and coaching days, the coach left deep impressions upon many he met.

Bill Salvatore

Bill Salvatore was a year ahead of Teevens at Silver Lake Regional High in Kingston, Mass., and blocked for him on the football team during his senior year. Now a Realtor in Arizona, Salvatore last saw his former teammate at Silver Lake’s traditional Thanksgiving game against Plymouth-Carver high school 30 years ago but tracked his career from afar.

“Buddy started as a junior (in 1972), and he was tiny. I remember our assistant coach telling the linemen not to be the guy who let Buddy’s jersey get dirty. They were afraid the other team would kill him because he was so little, maybe 120 pounds. But he was a tough kid and he shook off the hits.”

Larry McElreavy

Claremont native Larry McElreavy was a Big Green freshman team assistant in 1974 and convinced Teevens to attend Dartmouth, where the teenager’s father was a hockey letter-winner and 1952 graduate. McElreavy later coached at Columbia and against Teevens during the 1980s and won a 2015 NHIAA football state title while coaching Newport High. He lives in South Carolina.

“We wanted him badly because he was a fine student and a hell of an athlete. But we were nervous because he played at Deerfield (Academy) and their coach liked to send players to Harvard.

“Buddy felt strongly about playing multiple sports, so I had to get (head coach Jake Crouthamel) to sign off on him playing hockey and maybe even baseball at Dartmouth. He was one of 60 or 70 freshmen we brought in for that year (1975). He had a good release and good football awareness and talking with him, you could feel the intensity in his voice.”

Don Mahler

Teevens quarterbacked Dartmouth to the 1978 Ivy League title, and his exploits were closely covered by the Valley News and sportswriter Don Mahler. The paper sponsored a weekday luncheon at Landers Restaurant to honor a high school football standout and Dartmouth’s best performer from the past weekend.

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“In all the years we did that, only one Dartmouth guy ever went over and gave personal congratulation to the high school guy, and it was Buddy. The others were too hard and too quick to get out the door.

“One year there was a Dartmouth sports equipment sale when Buddy was coaching, and he tossed me a No. 39 jersey. I was wearing it years later when they played at Stetson (in DeLand, Fla. in 2017). I was watching Dartmouth walk out for the start of the game. Buddy saw me and he gets this big grin and gives me a huge, grandpa hug and say thanks for wearing the jersey. This is a couple of minutes before kickoff. Amazing.”

Byron Boston

Byron Boston, an African-American defensive lineman and 1981 Dartmouth graduate, played with Teevens as a sophomore. He grew up in what he describes as “inner-city St. Louis” and recalls his high school’s enrollment including only two white students. Adapting to the culture and racial composition of Hanover and Dartmouth was a challenge.

“Our country was still segregated. I was way out of my comfort zone but also very excited. I had to deal with people who’d had very little experience with someone who didn’t look like them.

“As an African-American, you can tell if a white person views you only as that or as just another human being. Buddy treated me like anyone else from the second I met him. As a coach, he started an African-American mentor program for his players and had me come and speak to them.

“In 1978, he galvanized our team. He looked people in the eye and acknowledged them and encouraged them. It wasn’t quite the same with our other captains. He was the one who got everyone to row in the same direction.”

Chuck Young

1988 Dartmouth graduate Chuck Young, a Tennessee native, covered Big Green football for the college’s student newspaper and was later its sports editor. Broad-shouldered and relentlessly personable, Young hit it off immediately with Teevens, a fellow extrovert, upon the latter’s hiring as football coach at his alma mater in 1987.

“There were some dark days during the time of (previous head coach Joe Yukica), so Buddy was a breath of fresh air and a massive injection of energy to a place that hadn’t seen that in so long. Going to his practices, you wondered if (Dartmouth) had even been playing the same sport the year before.”

Cindy Falzarano

Cindy Falzarano became Dartmouth football’s administrative assistant in 1988. Her first day was Oct. 1, her and Teevens’ shared birthday, and she soon wondered if she could keep up with her new boss.

“He had the high energy and enthusiasm and all the things we loved about him, but it took me a while to adjust. He found out I was looking at leaving and sat me down and we got our expectations straight, and that was a turning point.

“We had so much fun and laughter. He included me in the coaches group photo for the game program, even thought I was wearing these crazy Zubaz striped pants. That really impressed me, that he noticed a lowly administrative person like that. He also let my daughter do a short internship at the start of the 2016 season, because she wanted to learn about coaching.

“My husband and I visited New Orleans when Buddy was coaching at Tulane, and he took us to dinner and introduced us to Shoes, his baby pet alligator. He had this tiny creature in his office and was feeding it and we were just blown away.

“I ended up in the hospital with cancer in 2010, and Buddy just appeared one day. He cracked us all up by making the nurse take his vitals along with mine. It was such a lift. I have no idea how he knew I was sick.”

Ryan Danehy

After his head coaching jobs at Tulane and Stanford ended in his dismissal, Teevens returned for his second stint leading Dartmouth in 2005. His arrival again jolted the football program, recalled long snapper Ryan Danehy, also a standout on the college’s lacrosse team and now the head lacrosse coach at Mercer (Ga.) University.

“The way he ran the program was eye-opening for me, and it was clear he could turn the program around. I wouldn’t say people were afraid of him, but his energy and attention to detail left them on edge. Not panicky, but really focused.

“You looked at Buddy and you realized he doesn’t sleep much and he doesn’t forget anything and he’s just tougher and in better shape than us. So much of how I hold my players and coaches accountable comes from him.

“Each year, I would send $50 or $100, whatever I could afford on an assistant coach’s salary, and he would always send me a handwritten thank you note. He would say it meant so much because he knew the stage of life I was in. What’s happened breaks my heart.”

Foley Schmidt

Following Dartmouth’s winless 2008 season, the program was evaluated by an outside consultant and Teevens was convinced to hire experienced offensive and defensive coordinators and give them latitude. To keep his hand in player instruction, the coach oversaw the kicking specialists, including freshman place kicker Foley Schmidt.

A Minnesotan, Schmidt’s Type 1 diabetes was severe enough that he needed to awaken every hour throughout the night for a glucose check. Schmidt, who became a Big Green starter, said other schools shied away from him because of the care he needed but that Teevens spent countless hours coordinating it with others on Dartmouth’s campus.

“He solved the lack of technology back then through care and hard work. Now I wear an electronic glucose monitor that’s connected to my phone, but back then a security officer or my roommate or a nurse had to check on me if I didn’t wake up during the night.

“My sophomore year, my blood sugar got low during practice and Coach T recognized that something was wrong, and he literally slung me over his shoulder and carried me 300 yards to the training room.

“There have been a lot of tears among those of us who grew up as Dartmouth football players. The dreams that Coach T was able to make come true for others are probably his biggest impact.”

Brian Mann

Brian Mann, a standout Dartmouth quarterback, graduated in 2002 and returned to his alma mater in 2009 to serve as director of football operations and later as an assistant athletic director. He’s in his second year as athletic director at Virginia’s William & Mary College.

“When Buddy came back (in 2005), I think annual giving for the Friends of Football was around $100,000 and I believe it’s north of $1.5 million now. He was one of Dartmouth’s own, and he connected with an army of alumni and friends who took up the charge. His energy for interactions with people was seemingly unending.

“That cliche about people will forget what you say and do, but they’ll remember how you make them feel? That was Buddy, because he poured himself into people.

“College coaches have real power over kids who are on their first time away from home. The players inevitably look to them and are influenced by them beyond the field. Some coaches use that to push forward authority, but Buddy used it to help people grow.”

Kevin Price

Before the 2013 spring practice, Teevens brought aboard 31-year-old walk-on running back Kevin Price. The New Orleans native had served as an Army Ranger and was married. His high school football career had lasted a couple of undistinguished seasons.

Quiet but powerfully determined, Price ran for 53 yards during a blowout of Columbia during his first varsity play, but it was negated by a holding penalty. At Teevens’ request, he later delivered a pregame speech before a crucial victory at Brown in which he described the Rangers experience. Interim head coach Sammy McCorkle said it was one of the most powerful addresses he’s ever heard.

“I was 10th string and I wasn’t bringing anything to the team, but (Teevens) fought for me after it looked like I’d run out of (athletic) eligibility because I’d started school at a community college. After the season, my Columbia run wasn’t going to be on the highlight reel because it was called back and he said, ‘No, it’s got to be on there.’

“I remember the deep care in his eyes, and he made the world a better place just by creating good men. I’d say he’s in the top five of most influential men I’ve ever met, and I’ve met some of the best Americans ever.”

Jared Gerbino

Like so many Dartmouth players under Teevens, Jared Gerbino, a rangy and powerful athlete from the Rochester, N.Y., area, wasn’t highly recruited. The Big Green staff prides itself on developing raw talent. Gerbino was molded first into a tight end and then a run-heavy quarterback, blasting his way through defenses and helping secure a share of the 2018 title.

Following a professional career in Italy, Gerbino will soon start work with the bank and finance firm of JPMorgan Chase.

“Coach Teevens was my biggest deciding factor in going to Dartmouth. It was the way he talked to me and looked me in the eyes. I felt a sense of family and comfort and, after four years, he was 100% right in what he told me. It’s hard to picture Dartmouth without him, because guys used to joke he’d be on the sidelines coaching in a wheelchair at 110.

“There were other coaches who couldn’t or didn’t want to see me as a quarterback, but he was my biggest advocate, and hearing that he thought I could do it gave me such confidence. He was the kind of father figure who was as close as possible to being your actual father.”

Tom and Kim Hoyt

Dartmouth football maintains a local mentor program for its players, each of whom is connected to an older supporter of the program. They often become de facto members of the youngsters’ extended families, as has been the repeated case for West Lebanon residents Tom and Kim Hoyt. Tom is a longtime Mascoma Bank employee, and Kim is an associate director for the Dartmouth College Fund.

“We woke up one morning last year to messages telling us that our mentee, Ivan Hoyt (no relation), was having an appendectomy. We’re in the hospital waiting room in 15 minutes and the only other person there is Buddy. I ask about the game at Cornell the day before, and we wind up in a two-hour conversation with him showing us all sorts of details from video on his laptop.

“This wasn’t Football 101; it was 404. A fascinating view of how the game works. Then they wheel Ivan out and Buddy is wonderful to the surgeon. He arranges to have her come to a future game and takes down her address so he can send her son a Dartmouth football shirt and an autographed ball.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.