Randy Dase will be the first to admit that he likes nothing better than to take on a challenge, and being a teacher for four decades at Towson High School shows a high level of perseverance and dedication to his craft.
In addition, Dase’s considerable coaching résumé — 84 seasons in four sports with 10 state championships — at his alma mater and nine more seasons as an assistant varsity basketball coach at Gilman, marks a distinguished career that began on Feb 1, 1977 and shows no signs of ending any time soon.
“As long as I have my health, I have no plans to retire,” said the Lutherville resident, who still coaches the boys varsity soccer team that produced a 14-3-2 in the fall and was ranked 11th in the metropolitan area by the Baltimore Sun.
Dase missed a couple of months of teaching and coaching after surgery for prostate cancer during the 2016 season, returning in time to coach the Generals’ boys varsity soccer team in the Baltimore County championship game in late October and to a Class 3A state semifinal appearance with Jon Becker, who took over coaching duties during his convalescence, the following month.
Considering that he played soccer, basketball and lacrosse at Towson before graduating in 1972, Dase knows what it takes to participate in high school sports at a high level.
Dase was also on the Johns Hopkins University lacrosse teams that were runners-up for a national championship to the University of Maryland a year before the Blue Jays ripped the crown away from the archival Terrapins in 1974.
While playing sports always came easily to Dase, he wasn’t sure how well he would take to teaching.
In fact, while taking courses he needed for teaching certification at what was then called Towson State University, Dase was all set to choose an alternative career path when his social studies professor, Jim Lawler, intervened.
“I told him that I was ready to quit,” recalled Dase, whose wife, Michelle, is also a Towson High grad. “He said that I could do what I wanted, but that I would be throwing away a career. He said that I was a natural teacher.”
Dase was named assistant boys lacrosse coach by Towson High coach Jeff Mann while he was student teaching.
Shortly thereafter, Dase interviewed for a teaching position at Towson.
When he landed the job as a social studies teacher, Dase knew he was where he wanted to be.
“I felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world,” Dase said about the teaching gig that came with a salary of $9,500 per year. “It was my dream job, and I felt like I was rich.”
From the beginning, Mann felt he had made the right choice in hiring Dase to be his assistant.
“He had great work habits,” said Mann, who is retired and living in Cockeysville after a long coaching and administrative career at Towson, Dulaney and Perry Hall high schools and the University of Maryland. “Randy wasn’t afraid to work hard, and the kids respected the fact that he was a good guy who understood them. Plus, he was a much better field coach than I ever was. He could make key adjustments during the game. He could also develop a great game plan, and was always well prepared.”
Dase eventually took over from Mann and coached varsity lacrosse for 18 years, guiding the Generals to a then-record eight state championships. Four of those titles were compiled during the now-defunct state-regional format with the other four during a six-year span in the mid-1990s when Towson rattled off 58 consecutive victories.
Brian Kelly, a standout midfielder on the 1988 and 1989 state-regional champs, is now the head men’s lacrosse coach at Goucher College. His older brothers, Tommy and Brendan, also played for Dase.
“It’s not until years later that you realize what he did for you,” said Kelly, who also played for Johns Hopkins. “He challenged you and he pushed you. Honestly, the reason I’m in coaching today is because of him. He’s had an unbelievable impact on my career.”
Dase also assisted his varsity basketball coach, the legendary Randy Walker, before taking over the job himself for 24 years and reaching the state final four twice.
Dase just completed his 29th year as the varsity soccer coach, the same number of years that he hosted “High School Sports Scene” on the Baltimore County Public Schools television station.
For 56 of Dase’s sports seasons, retired Towson High math teacher John Offerman was a trusted lacrosse and basketball assistant.
“Randy just has a knack for breaking down the game and teaching kids how to play with intelligence and dedication,” Offerman said. “He just enjoys watching the kids grow as players and people.”
Dase also figured out early on that his piercing whistle coming from the bench was a unique non-verbal means of communication during a game.
“It always gets their attention,” Offerman said with a laugh. “And he never needs to use it twice.”
Charlene DiMino, Towson High principal, said that Dase’s professionalism has earned him a spot in the hearts and minds of many beyond the classroom and soccer field.
“The Towson Community has benefited tremendously from Mr. Dase’s influence throughout his 40 years of teaching and coaching,” DiMino added. “Attend any event at Towson High School or mention the school’s name to a crowd and you will most likely learn of Mr. Dase’s influence.”