Remembering Dow High Hall of Famer Al Quick

When a 26-year-old Dave MacDonald took over as head coach of the boys’ basketball at Dow High in 1977, he had no experience leading a varsity team or with all the accompanying challenges. What he had, however, was a great cheerleader in his corner – longtime Dow athletic director Al Quick.

“Al was my mentor in the coaching profession, and I learned a lot from being with him and spending time in his office, getting his thoughts on coaching. He was always supportive, always encouraged,” MacDonald said of Quick, who died suddenly last Thursday at the age of 88.

“Al was a coach’s AD and had a genuine passion for all sports at Dow High. I would say that in all my years of teaching and coaching, he was by far one of the most influential people in my teaching and coaching career,” added MacDonald. “I used to tell Al he was like a second father to me. My longevity as a coach has a lot to do with Al. He did so much for me and mentored me throughout. way, and it has made a big difference in my career.

Dan McShannock, who took over the Dow AD job when Quick retired as a coach in 1992 and remained Chargers AD until 2007, said his predecessor was “an old school guy from the most positive way”.

“He was tough, direct and he didn’t beat around the bush with people,” McShannock said. “…I think the athletic program at Dow High is where it is today thanks to Al Quick. He established a solid foundation from day one. He had great coaches, and I think coaches and athletes all looked up to Al.

“I think it’s all just contributed to the success that Dow High School has had and continues to enjoy,” McShannock added. “He set the tone; he really did. I think we are all better today thanks to Al Quick. I really believe it. I have always admired him…as a coach and as a sports administrator. He ran a top-notch program. I had the chance to succeed him. »

Quick came to Dow High when it opened in 1968 and coached the Chargers football team for the first 13 years of its existence. Along the way, he was named Regional Coach of the Year three times and Class A State Coach of the Year in 1976 after guiding Dow to an undefeated record and a state championship.

Quick, who coached football at Saginaw Buena Vista before joining Dow, was also the Chargers’ RA from 1971 until his retirement 21 years later.

Jean Bell worked under Quick as Dow’s athletic secretary from the position’s inception in 1983 until his retirement nearly a decade later. Bell said she learned a lot from Quick about athletics administration…and about people…and about life in general.

“I came into this totally green job on athletics, and Al taught me a lot. … He taught me a lot about athletics and what happens behind the scenes, which is a ton of things that I didn’t even know,” Bell recalled. “And he taught me a lot about how to get along with people. He could get along with anyone. He used to say, ‘If you could overcome people’s idiosyncrasies, you would have a lot more friends.’

According to Bell, Quick had “unlimited energy”, and she agreed with MacDonald that Quick was always going to bat for his coaches.

“He stood by his coaches no matter what,” Bell noted, adding with a laugh, “Once he and (longtime Dow baseball coach) Tom Roberts got into the office They raised their voices and really got into it, but at the end of the same visit, they started talking again as if nothing had happened.

“They both gave their opinion, and they didn’t agree, but they became friends again,” Bell added with another chuckle. “… The kids respected him, and the coaches too.”

In addition to his long stints as Dow’s football and AD coach, Quick was the Chargers’ first hockey coach and the boys’ first golf coach, and he coached junior varsity baseball for several years. He was also an assistant football coach for the Northwood Institute from 1983 to 1986.

“He was an exceptional coach. … When he was a coach, he was full of energy and enthusiastic. It didn’t matter if he coached JV football or baseball. 100% given,” MacDonald recalled.

McShannock, who was a football coach and AD at Saginaw Arthur Hill before coming to Dow, said he always admired Quick’s work as a coach, administrator and educator for the Chargers.

“When I was at Arthur Hill, we were always playing the Chargers, and they were well-drilled, tough teams. Al always had his kids ready to play,” McShannock said. “…From day one, Dow had a solid top-to-bottom program in a variety of sports. … You have to have someone in charge who keeps the staff in the right direction, and I think Al did that.

“At Dow, you had a mix of strong athleticism and our focus on academics, and Al was a big part of that,” McShannock added. “…He wanted athletes to be part of the community, to do their part and to be good citizens.

It’s advice that Bell says Quick practiced himself, especially when it came to supporting his coaches and just getting involved and getting things done.

“He had an eye for detail and the coaches felt like they could come at him with anything. … He was always in the coaching corner and ready to do anything for anyone,” Bell said. “You could ask him to help with maintenance, and he would do it, or he would see something that needed to be done and just do it.

“It didn’t matter that he was the DA. He pitched in and did everything that needed to be done,” she added, noting with a laugh, “He had a lot of ‘Quick-isms.’ That’s what they called them. He would say things like, ‘Don’t tell me how choppy the water is.’ Just bring the boat up.

Like Bell, MacDonald learned a lot from Quick about how to deal with problems — and how to deal with themselves — on and off the pitch.

“We had the kind of relationship where he could talk to me and I would listen. Whatever he had to say, I took it away,” said MacDonald, who coached the Chargers men’s basketball team from 1977 to 2012 and also coached the women’s basketball team at Dow for a few seasons. “When I first got the job (boys coach) I was very young and had a lot to learn, and he would sit with me and explain things to me.

“He let me know if I was doing something wrong, but he was doing it in a very nice way. He just gave me advice and made sure I was doing the right things and taking the high road,” MacDonald added. “…He was very positive. Whether it was a good year or a bad year, he was so supportive.

“He was always at games, and after games, whether they win or lose, he was in the dressing room talking with you. He even traveled with us on the bus to games a few times. I always felt very comfortable around him,” MacDonald continued. “I just enjoyed his presence. He was like that with other sports too. He was there to support the coaches and support the athletes. … He had a real passion for Dow High School and for Dow Athletics.

Bell remembered Quick as “a good guy” who was very professional at times but also “very funny” to others. She recalled how, during Dow’s homecoming parade, he would wait before the parade and throw leaves at Dow staff members as they passed.

“He was great fun to be around. This man had a lot of energy – tons of energy,” Bell said, adding with unmistakable affection in his voice: “When I first saw him with a walker, I was like, ‘Wow , I never thought this would happen, not to Al!’ He liked to say he was a 20 year old trying to get out of an 80 year old body.

MacDonald noted that over the years he had learned that Quick was loved and admired not only by his Dow contemporaries, but also by people throughout the region.

“Discussing with other coaches, I discovered that Al was very well respected by everyone. Every time I met someone and told them that Al was our AD, they would tell me that they were thinking of Al’s world,” MacDonald said.

“…I miss talking to him. I miss stories. He was just a guy who was easy to identify with,” added MacDonald. “…I hadn’t seen him for a few years, but I always enjoyed being with him, enjoyed his company and talking about athletics with him.”

Like MacDonald, McShannock said he would miss Quick’s “overall friendship”.

“Probably once or twice a year we would meet at Midland Stadium and watch a game, and he was just a caring person,” McShannock said. “You could talk shop with him and laugh, and I’ve always had tremendous respect for him.”

According to Bell, Quick and his wife Marge wintered in Florida for many years after he retired, then eventually sold their home in Midland and moved into a freestanding seniors’ residence in Frankenmuth a few years ago. Interestingly, Bell added, Quick and some of his former Dow colleagues gathered for lunch at The Boulevard in Midland only last Monday – three days before his death.

“I always stayed in touch with Al, and went to Frankenmuth several times to see him and Marge. They loved it there (in Frankenmuth), but they always missed their people here,” Bell said. His wife and family were everything to Al. His wife was always very involved (with Dow Athletics), and she shared it with Dow High – shared it a lot.

“…I was blessed to work with Al for nine years and then work with Dan (McShannock) as well,” she added. “I was very lucky to have Al and Dan.”

Among Quick’s many accomplishments, he was inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame, Midland County Sports Hall of Fame, and Dow High Athletic Hall of Fame.

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