Colby Eagles Alumni Association
Nominated by John Dougherty & Kerry Turner
Chester “Neil” DeWerff carved his legacy coaching winning teams for high schools in Sabetha and Colby, Kansas. His journey started with an extremely dedicated work ethic and strict discipline that he learned on the farm. His dad, Chester, set the example for Neil to always “Do Your Best” whether it was winning top honors showing Holstein cattle or being the quarterback of his undefeated Ellinwood High School football team.
This strict and disciplined environment cultivated Neil’s belief that “success begets success” and “a habit of winning breeds more success”. His dogged determination and work ethic helped him to earn the nickname of “Bulldog” to his players and fan base. His college years saw Neil achieve three years of lettering in both football and basketball and 2 ½ years as starting quarterback.
Copyright Colby Eagles Alumni Association @ 2014
He was a high school basketball coach for 20 years (6 years at Sabetha and 14 years with the Colby Eagles). Neil also coached golf in Sabetha and started the golf program in Colby. He never cussed or used a swear word in front of any player and no athlete of his ever got a technical foul. His drills were always precise with no wasted energy. His players exemplified the utmost in sportsmanship. If he called a timeout, it never was to argue with the official but to give some strategic idea to help a player perform better. His example of leadership, bench decorum, sportsmanship, and discipline toward developing fundamental skills provided life-long lessons and a winning example for the students he coached.
Neil’s overall record of 337 wins and 99 losses during his 20 years of coaching basketball speaks for itself. He took Colby to its first State Tournament in 1968 where they finished 4th. He coached the Colby Eagles to the State Tournament for the next three years, finishing runner-up in 1969 with a record of 23-1. He followed that in 1970 with the State Title with a perfect mark of 25-0. This three-year coaching record was 71-4.
The measure of any person’s professional life is the impact they have on the people they encounter throughout their careers. Coaches, in particular, can have a profound influence on the students and athletes they mentor. Special coaches spend their careers molding their players for a future life with respect for winning and, more importantly, a tolerance for losing. All young people should have been so fortunate as to experience Neil DeWerff’s enthusiastic leadership. Neil is retired and living in Ellis, Kansas.