'Super' coach retiring post in Seaford School District

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By Lynn R. Parks

After 36 years as a teacher and coach with the Seaford School District, Ron Dickerson has retired. The last official day for "Captain Dick," as he is known to many Blue Jay baseball and football players and fans, was Monday. "I just want some free time," said Dickerson. "I have been going to school since I was 5 and I just want to do something different." Dickerson, 60, of Laurel, came to the Seaford district in 1969 as a language arts teacher at Frederick Douglass Intermediate School. He was assistant football coach for four years under Ben Sirman - "Ben taught me how to coach," Dickerson said - then took over the reins in 1973. He was head coach until 1998. "He taught me so much about competing and about pushing myself to excel," said Mike Neill, who played baseball under Dickerson at Seaford High and was drafted out of Villanova by the Oakland A's. "He had confidence in me before I had confidence in myself." Neill went on to win a gold medal in the Olympics playing for Team USA Baseball. Dickerson was not just a good coach for students who excelled in athletics, Neill added. "He cares about all kids, and cares about the town," he said. "We are lucky to have had him for so many years." "Ron has a great rapport with kids," Sirman said. "He could laugh and joke with them, and then he had that certain look or blew that whistle a certain way and it was back to serious work. He made it fun for the kids." In Dickerson's career, he had two football state championships (1981 and 1983) and two baseball state championships (1983 and 1986). As head football coach, he had 191 victories, which ranks among the best in the state.

"He was an outstanding athlete who brought three attributes to the football program," Sirman said. "He was dedicated to the sport and knowledgeable about it, he had rapport with the kids and he was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be successful." Dickerson said that he began his love affair with football at Laurel High School, under Coach George Schellenberger, for whom he started playing in the seventh grade. "I liked it immediately," he said. "The competition of it was really fun." He played an end on both the defensive and offensive teams at Laurel and was third baseman for the baseball team. He went on to play football for Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va., where for three years he was all-conference. At Shepherd, he majored in elementary education. In addition to baseball and football, Dickerson also coached basketball and wrestling. The best thing about coaching, he said, was seeing students meet their potential. That didn't always mean winning. "Completing something you begin, day to day, week to week, that's success," he said. "Everybody likes to win, but success is not measured by the final score. Winning is not the ultimate goal." After retiring as head coach at Seaford High, Dickerson was assistant coach at Salisbury University in 2002. In 2003 and 2004, he was assistant coach at Sussex Tech and this year is back at Seaford, where he is assistant coach under his son, Marc. His job is to scout the teams that the Blue Jays will play the following week. As for his teaching career, Dickerson taught social studies when he first went to Seaford High, and after a few years became a physical education teacher. In 1998, he took over as the district's visiting teacher, calling on the parents of students who were truant. Dickerson called his years with the Seaford School District a great experience. "I have had a super job," he added. "The whole time I worked at the high school, I really liked what I was doing. The students gave me something to look forward to every day and all the teachers were really committed and dedicated. I was lucky to be surrounded by so many good people." He counts one of his strangest times as a coach watching his Sussex Tech team play the Blue Jays at Bob Dowd Stadium. "That was the strangest feeling, playing against Seaford on that field," he said. As for the best times in his coaching career, they would be when he had his sons Marc and Craig on his teams. "Coaching my sons, then having them coach with me, was the greatest thing," he said. "I enjoyed that. It was exciting to be around them that much."

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