Coach Vince Dooley: A Garden For All Seasons

Sandy and Joan…friends since 1990.

This past Monday, my friend, Sandy and I went on quite an adventure.  We traveled to Athens, Georgia, joining a group of friends from the Marietta area and had the opportunity to tour Coach Vince Dooley’s beautiful and lush gardens just minutes from the University of Georgia campus. [pullquote]Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller[/pullquote] While this was my first time to visit the gardens, many of my friends who had been before said this was a “must see”. Now that I have been, I agree. Following our garden tour, we visited Jane, the proprietor of plainjane designs, treated Laura, a UGa collegiate to lunch at Last Resort Grill, and enjoyed a Chick-fil-a icedream cone with my sister, Kathy, on our drive back home. [pullquote]I am an inspiration for anyone who wants to be a gardener late in life, or anyone who would like to write a book late in life. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is my “golf”, my get-away.” Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote] Just 83 years young, as of September 4, 2015, Coach Dooley is one of the most humble, down-to-earth, congenial folks you will ever meet. He loves gardening and talking to others who love it, too. In the past two decades, Coach has truly designed a garden for all seasons.


Did you know? Coach Vince Dooley  was the head football coach at the University of Georgia for 25 years (1964-1988) and its athletic director from 1979 to 2004.  With Coach Dooley at the helm, the Bulldogs won six Southeastern Conference titles and one National Championship (1980). He received numerous awards, including being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. From 1964-1980, Dooley was notably assisted by his defensive coördinator, Erskine (Erk) Russell. Coach Russell was the one who coined the team name:  Junkyard Dawgs. [pullquote]If we score, we may win. If they never score, we’ll never lose.” Coach Erk Russell[/pullquote] Did you know? My long-time friend, Jan, mentioned in my August post entitled Are You An 
Egg, A Carrot, Or A Coffee Bean, will become Grandmama to another Erk, as her daughter, Kathrine, who is married to Coach Erk Russell’s grandson, will be having a newborn son this Friday, 10/2/15.

A graduate of Auburn University (War Eagle!), Dooley later served as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.  IMG_5942Curiosity and a desire to learn spurred Coach Dooley to take a horticulture course at nearby UGa. One class led to another and Dooley had been bitten by the “gardening bug”. [pullquote]I like to start most of my plants indoors, get to know them, before turning them out to be planted in the gardens.” Coach Vince Dooley[/pullquote] Groups like ours are the fortunate beneficiaries of his love of gardening. Following 20 years of gardening, Dooley decided to write a book about it and was joined by impressionistic artist, Steve Penley in the beautiful coffee table book entitled: Vince Dooley’s Garden: The Horticulture Journey of A Football Coach, with paintings by, Steve Penley. Coach Dooley was assisted by his daughter, Deanna, as he autographed copies of this special book for our group.

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Joan, Melissa, and Ansley at The Dooley Home
Coach Dooley’s friend, Steve Penley painted this of their home and gardens.
The Dooley Residence with a Cascading Falls Tree in the foreground on the left.
Jane Bennett…the next time you are in Athens, visit plainjane designs!

All in all, it was a special day touring the gardens of Coach Vince Dooley.IMG_5954 IMG_5964 IMG_5929IMG_5973

A quick hug and a visit with my sis, Kathy!
Always reaching out to help others, Coach Dooley signs autographs at a MUST Ministries Fundraiser on April 25, 2015.

If, like Coach Vince Dooley, we are able to live into our eighth decade, what hobbies might we want to develop?  Let’s take a little time to sit quietly, exploring and discovering what we are curious and passionate about.

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American, playbook, play.

With the 2015 football season in full swing, an earlier post Winning A Life Is More Important Than Winning A Game really got me thinking about how hard a coach works. For the coaches who genuinely care about each player who is under their wing, the job is even more demanding. Following the tragic passing of former UGa player, Paul Oliver, at the age of 29, Coach Mark Richt has proven that his responsibilities for his players goes far beyond the four years they play for this great S.E.C. team. [pullquote]I don’t want this to happen to another one of my boys.” Coach Mark Richt, tearing up and pounding the table during the initial meeting of The P. O. Network[/pullquote] Oliver, a graduate of Harrison High School in our community, went on to play for the Bulldogs and then on to the NFL playing for the San Diego Chargers. Sadly, Paul Oliver took his own life two years ago today, on September 24, 2013. Upon hearing of this tragedy, Coach Richt helped to create The Paul Oliver Network ( The P.O. Network): A core group of Atlanta businessmen—who prefer to remain anonymous—act as mentors to former players.

The end of my football dream was, as it is for almost every prospect, a harsh and slow reality.” Brandon Burrows, the “guinea pig” of The P.O. Network who benefitted greatly from this network of businessmen

Junior football team and coach portrait

The Oliver Tree Foundation on Friday, June 12th, 2015 held their first foundation football camp in honor of Paul J. Oliver at Harrison High School, Kennesaw, GA.

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NASB 

The main focus of their football camp is to teach life skills that our youth can take with them throughout their lives to overcome adversity and keep a positive outlook on life.

It is clear to most parents, spouses, players, and even fans that coaches of all sports, many times, play the role of not only coach, but also father (or mom, for the many female coaches!) and mentor. And, my goodness, the time invested in preparing for games and practices is difficult to comprehend.

Let’s remember how hard coaches work. You’re not only a coach, but you’re a father figure. You’re a mentor. Sometimes you have to be a psychologist. You’ve got to be there 24/7 for these young men—who they’re dating, their parents, their cellphone, because you’re their first line of communication.” Greg McGarity, UGa Athletics Director 

While it’s a known fact that most players need to be coached well, on Saturday, September 12, 2015 during a contest with East Carolina, Coach Jim McElwain, Head Coach of University of Florida Gators clearly took it too far when player, Kelvin Taylor made a mistake by exaggerating his cut-throat gesture following a touchdown. Telling his player to be a f—-ing man, in my opinion, his hateful gestures spoke much louder than his words.

Actions speak louder than words.” Mark Twain 

Coach McElwain went too far with his berating. Read here and see what you think. Just watch this coach’s mannerisms in this quick Youtube Video. Kelvin’s teammates’ expressions speak volumes, as well…

ALL players need Mentors and Coaches.


This past Father’s Day, UGa player Isaiah McKenzie gave Coach Mark Richt a nice Dad’s Day shout—out by thanking him for being a father figure in his life and in the lives of many others. Another UGa player, a friend of my friend, Ryan B., Arthur Lynch openly talks about Coach Richt being a father figure for him, as well.

Coaching Word Cloud

Kudos to all coaches…

men and women,

coaches of children, teens, young adults,

and beyond.

Take time to say “THANKS”  to a coach today.