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Randy Dase left the classroom at the end of last school year, but he couldn’t stay away from Towson High School. After teaching and coaching in the building for 43 years, the Towson native worked with school administrators to secure some part-time support staff work, and to continue coaching.

“I didn’t get roped into it, I asked to do it,” Dase said.

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It’d be too hard to leave the building all at once, said Dase, who himself graduated from Towson High School in 1972.

During his career, Dase taught social studies classes such as government and civics. He coached lacrosse, soccer and basketball. And he was a varsity athlete when he was a student, too.

He always wanted to be a high school coach, Dase said, and remembers being inspired by his U.S. history teacher in the seventh grade. Returning to Towson High School to teach and to coach was a dream, and once he got back — graduating from Johns Hopkins University — Dase couldn’t leave.

“It’s like being a fireman. Once you fight those fires, you can’t get it out of your system,” Dase said.

He said he loved being in the classroom, helping students understand a concept with which they were struggling. But he said his biggest influence on students was probably on the field as a coach.

“The classroom is such a short period of time,” Dase said. “I’m very proud that a lot of my student-athletes follow the same career path that I have, and have gone into teaching and coaching. I’m proud to pick up the paper and see where one of my ex-players is coaching a college or high school.”

One of those former students, Rick Brocato, recently was named head varsity coach for boy’s lacrosse at Towson High. Dase will join him as an assistant coach.

Brocato, who graduated from Towson High in 1981, said having Dase as a teacher and coach is what inspired him to get into coaching.

“His enthusiasm for what he was doing, whether it was in the classroom or on the field … it was just kind of infectious,” Broacato said. "You could tell he had a real passion. "

Earned respect

The last faculty meeting that Dase attended, putting a bookend on the 2018-2019 academic year, was filled with “appreciation, tears, laughter and love,” Towson High School Principal Charlene DiMino said in an email. She called him a gentleman and a professional.

John Offerman, a former colleague of Dase’s and a current member of the Baltimore County Board of Education, said Dase was “a special man who accomplished so much.”

Offerman said he met Dase when he arrived at Towson High in 1980 as a math teacher. Dase took Offerman under his wing and taught him how to coach, which included “hours” of watching films and talking about past performances.

Between hours of training and coaching basketball and lacrosse together, Offerman said, the two became friends.

“We just had a very similar outlook on things, in terms of what sports meant. Particularly, and I think this is his greatest strength, what sports meant in terms of being able to teach young men about life,” Offerman said.

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Dean Stocksdale, another of Dase’s former students and players, agreed.

“He was legitimate,” Stocksdale said of Dase. “He was really an excellent educator, and he was a really good lacrosse coach.”

Stocksdale, who graduated from Towson High School in 1980, worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore County from 1988 until 2007. Now he is employed by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

He said Dase was “a really, really good influence.” The teacher and coach helped him with his resume and that sort of professional development during his senior year, Stocksdale said. Since graduating, the Towson resident said he’s gone back to Dase’s classes to talk about being a prosecutor.

“He was supportive ... with really anyone who played with him. He always had your back,” Stocksdale said.

A party organized by the Towson High School Alumni Association to celebrate Dase, scheduled for Nov. 12, sold out a month in advance, said Mary Osmeyer Welder, office manager for the association.

She said 228 teachers, alumni and friends are expected for the party, to be held at the Eagle’s Nest Country Club in Phoenix.

“There are dozens of people on the wait list that will never get in,” Welder said in an email.

Brocato, the new lacrosse coach, said he was excited for the party, but he was more excited for Dase to get to experience it.

“He has a good soul, he’s a good human being, he just goes about things the right way,” Brocato said. “I’m excited for him. He’s going to be able to enjoy this.”

Dase, a Timonium resident, said the party, and the fact that so many people were interested in attending, was “very humbling.”

“How many people get to go to a party like that? Usually it’s your funeral,” Dase said. “I’m a lucky guy."

Still, being a teacher had its challenges. A battle with prostate cancer sidelined Dase for part of the season; he underwent an operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital. As of Sept. 1, though, Dase said he is considered cancer free.

And now, because of his experience with the illness, Towson High School boy’s soccer has an annual men’s cancer awareness game. Dase also has taken kids on field trips to Hopkins so they can observe medical labs and other aspects of working in a hospital.

Other challenges have been more global. The local high school used to be “the center of social life,” Dase said, but that’s now fragmented because of social media. Teachers, parents and students all feel more stress and pressure because grades can be posted online.

Dase said he would not accept emails from his students. Instead, he’d get to school by 6 a.m. and stick around until after practice in the evening.

“My thought was, if you have a problem or an issue, come see me in person. I want to talk to you face to face. I thought that was of educational of value,” Dase said.

He and his wife, Michelle, have two kids, Austin, 26 and Hunter, 21. Hunter Dase is attending Washington College and Austin Dase works in information technology.

Dase said he never read a book on how to be a good coach. Instead, all his morals, values and discipline for the field and for the classroom came from his parents, Martha and Arthur Dase. Neither was a teacher, though his mother was heavily involved in the PTA.

His mother taught him to always remember that, as a teacher, you have no way of knowing what the students in your classroom have gone through before arriving to class.

If he had to frame advice to new teachers, Dase said, “Make sure that you are cool, calm and collected if there is a problem, because everybody’s got a story. And that story occurs daily with the students that we have in our classroom or on the field.”

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