During homecoming weekend, Jim Daugherty was honored for being a tennis coach at Valparaiso University for 35 years.
Daugherty coached both the men’s and women’s teams during his tenure, serving a great number of student athletes over the years. After Daughtery made the decision to retire, the department wanted to honor him.
“He at one point coached both the men’s and the women's tennis teams. The last part of his career here he just coached the men,” LaBarbera said. “But he was here for thirty five years so we’re going to put a plaque out by the tennis courts that recognizes his thirty five years of service and recognize the impact that he had.”
Circumstances changed when the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 Homecoming weekend, thus discontinuing the opportunity to honor his tenure.
“So 2019 would’ve been their last year of competition, and so then we did want to recognize him in some way. And we were going to do it at homecoming last year but then we didn’t have the opportunity because of COVID,” LaBarbera said.
LaBarbera confirmed that coming back to be honored was not one of Daugherty’s priorities, but he eventually changed his mind.
“He originally wasn’t sure he wanted to come back and we had a conversation with him and I told him we would really like him to come back. He’s really kind of modest,” LaBarbera said.
When Daugherty was asked by former tennis player John Coles about being honored, he preferred to go away quietly.
“He asked, ‘Coach, do you want to have a retirement party or do you want to go away quietly?’” Daugherty said. “And my first reaction was, ‘I’d just like to go away quietly.’ I got back and I said, ‘Well you know I wouldn’t mind something kind of informal.”
The tennis alums then went to work, reaching out to the Athletics Department to put up a plaque on the university tennis courts to honor Daugherty.
“There’s probably been I’d say six or seven of the alums that have been actively engaged in planning and helping get the plaque and stuff together and they also planned the dinner that’s later that night that they’re going to have, to be able to spend time with him,” LaBarbera said.
With normalcy finally starting to come back on campus, LaBarbera and the department are happy that the ceremony can be held during the 2021 homecoming week.
“So we are thrilled to be able to do it and have him actually physically be here and then have a lot of his alums come back and be able to recognize him and to honor him and really to speak to the impact that he had on so many other experiences here at Valpo,” LaBarbera said.
According to LaBarbera, Daughterty’s time as a coach was really representative of the “Valpo experience.”
“And the reason he was here for 35 years is because, one, he was a good coach. And two he provided a quality experience for those young men and women that were in his program so he very much exemplified what I would call the Valpo experience,” LaBarbera said.
LaBarbera also said that his impact on the student-athletes has been so deep that some of them have gone on to become coaches as well. Michael Woodson, tennis coach at Baylor University in Texas, will be in attendance.
“One of the alums that’s coming back, Michael Woodson, is now the head coach at Baylor and the Baylor men's tennis team played for the national championship last year so their head coach is a Valpo alum that played for Jim,” LaBarbera said. “But there’s a lot of other successful business people that played for Jim and I’m sure that they’ll be back.”
Upon being asked about his legacy, Daughtery commented that his primary goal has been on bringing the quality of integrity and honor to Valpo.
“Well I always wanted to bring honor to Valparaiso University,” Daughtery said. “I wanted to compete in a very fair and just upstanding manner and bring integrity and honor to the university and to the players.”