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Dennis Fowler: a great coach, father and friend.

POSTED March 18, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney



Lewis Mills girls basketball coach, Dennis Fowler, holds his daughter, Juliet, earlier this season in Burlington. Fowler is stepping down from his basketball duties but will remain on the sidelines coaching girls soccer this fall.

BURLINGTON- You could look far and wide and not find as good a friend to any journalist as Dennis Fowler.

Fowler announced Thursday that he would be stepping down as head coach of the Lewis Mills girls basketball team after seven incredible years in which he amassed a 136-32 record.

Heck, for a guy who used to work in the business, he did the work for us most nights.

From the pamphlet you get as you enter the Spartans gym to the e-mail that included a box score and story, we should have twenty more just like him.

Not that we wanted him to do our work but he gave us great information to write about his teams.

Great coaches get the word out about their teams and nobody does it better than Fowler.

The demands of running back-to-back highly successful girls sports (soccer then basketball) can wear anybody out and when you do it in such a committed way, it takes a lot out of a person and a family.

Fowler, as most know from seeing this proud father hold his almost two-year old daughter Juliet after games, reached a new level of personnel joy when she was born.

I remember meeting Juliet for the first time soon after she was born, on Fathers Day almost two years ago when my wife and daughter took me out to brunch in Avon.

The unbridled happiness I saw in his face was priceless, his pride and joy in his arms.

This from the incredibly dedicated coach who was talking to me about a preview for the upcoming season as his wife was going into labor.

Almost apologetic, my friend Dennis excused himself from the preview as I tried my best to get him the heck off the phone and on his way.

That’s the kind of juggling he has done for years; teaching, coaching and being with his family.

One of the more special parts of covering his teams is his attention to what is truly important after every game.

After each contest, win or lose, Fowler takes a few minutes to say hi to his family, who are always in the stands or on the sidelines.

Records and championships are great and all but this coach has always recognized what was important: his family.

In his letter of resignation to Mills athletic director, David Tanner on Thursday, Fowler relayed something told to him by a fellow Berkshire League coach.

“You can always return to coach. You can never get this time back with your daughter,” Fowler recalled. “That has weighed heavily on my mind and in my heart this year.”

When I called my friend on Thursday night to congratulate him, he was doing what he was looking most forward to; giving Juliet a bath.

There is a selfish up side for me though.

Now I know I can get him to come on our radio and television show during basketball season, nobody talks this game with more knowledge and energy than Mr. Fowler.

I will miss, as most reporters will, his professionalism on the court but will still see it on the pitch in the fall.

I was talking to my friend and colleague Joe Palladino, at a recent game at Mills and Joe noted something I have always felt when covering a Fowler team.

Joe reminded me that he could not remember meeting a Mills player he did not like.

Neither could I and it all flows down from the top.

Fowler led teams always understood you have to be able to speak, and speak well, to those who tell the stories of the games.

This years team of Adamski, Bisson, Bayne and company never shied away from the microphone or when video came to town.

So we say good-bye to Fowler for one season but look forward to seeing him next fall, doing what he does best; win.

Just like he did when he hit the game winning shot for Terryville back in 1995 to win a state championship, Fowler goes out a champion is so many ways, for now, off the basketball courts.

See you out this summer, my friend.

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