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From the classroom to the field,

Doran tackles it all

August 11, 2017
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

By Allison Graham

Sports Editor

Article Photos

STC Head Football Coach, Nate Doran (center), and the STC Trojan Football team began practice on Monday, August 7 at the STC practice field. Their season competition begins with a rivalry game against Grinnell on Friday, August 25.
News Herald Photo/Allison Graham

For most from South Tama the name Nate Doran is nearly synonymous with Tama. Doran grew up in Tama and with the exception of his college years he has lived in the community for his entire life. He is as local and as loyal as they come.

Doran is entering into his second year as the Head Varsity Football Coach for the Trojans. It's a position he didn't always see himself in but it seems to fit him well. He will also be embarking on a new path in the classroom as well, albeit within the same school.

For Doran, school wasn't always the easiest, especially in the early years. But in 7th and 8th grade he discovered a passion for the game of football. From there, things began to come together for Doran as his excitement for football helped motivate him in the classroom as well.

Doran was involved in several sports at South Tama including football, basketball, track and golf. He recalls himself as a quiet kid in high school who liked to be outdoors. Most will remember Nate Doran, the athlete, but some may not know Nate Doran, the artist. Doran came up under the artistic tutelage of the late Terry Masters. Like many of his students, Nate came to view Mr. Masters as not just a teacher but a role model. Masters served as the Art Teacher at South Tama from 1979 to 1999.

Terry Masters sadly passed away just as Doran was starting college and the loss was tough for him. College classes and college football proved tough as well. He actually considered giving up football at one point. But fortunately for Doran, the loss of his close high school mentor became a catalyst for even greater motivation on the football field. Football would become a respite for Doran where he could channel his grief into something positive.

After high school Doran first attended Ellsworth Community College before transferring to William Penn University. He played football for the Statesmen but an untimely injury ended his career as a player. He moved back to Tama in 2004 and worked for a member of his family.

While working in appraisals he also began coaching for South Tama. Becoming reacquainted with his alma mater helped Doran to find his way towards a teaching degree. During this time, he went back to school to get his art degree. One day an old friend, Dustin Peska, gave him a call and told him about an opening for a teacher's aide position at the school. Doran got the job and also got his degree in special ed by attending night classes.

Doran credits coaching as the experience that brought him into his teaching career. He recalls a day when he first started coaching nearly 15 years ago in which he saw someone doing something not quite right on the field. He went over to the athlete and explained a way to do it better. Then he watched that athlete follow his direction. The sight excited Doran and opened up his mind to the idea of teaching.

Now seven years after he got his degree in Communications and Journalism (with an Art minor), Doran is entering into his second year as the STC Head Varsity Football Coach. He is also about to begin living out his dream as he is taking over the Art program at the high school and middle school from Ruth Sjostrom who retired last spring.

"This is my home. I know these kids and I want to be the best I can be for them," says Doran.

Art is, and always has been, a huge part of his life. He refers to art as a release. Doran enjoyed drawing the most when he was growing up and says he used to get in trouble in class for drawing but that it was actually his way of concentrating. Cartoons were his favorite to draw and at one time he had the dream of doing computer graphics for Walt Disney.

At 36 years old, Doran is in position to be one of South Tama's longest serving coaches. What sets Doran aside from others is that he also went through the programs he is now in charge of as a student. He graduated from South Tama in 1999.

Art and football may be a peculiar combination for some but for Doran they go hand in hand. His creative side helps him on the field. It allows him to think on his feet and come up with creative solutions to a problem.

Doran didn't get to where he is today on his own and he is quick to credit those who have helped him along the way. Many of his high school friends are still a part of his life. The coaches he had growing up including Jay Hoskey, Mike Stein, Jim Plantz and Jerry Bisher were all integral to shaping him into the man he is today. Some of those coaches he has also coached along side. He took over the program from Hoskey and has Mike Stein, who Doran refers to as a genius on the field, on the sidelines next to him as his assistant. For Doran, football means family. The current coaching staff also includes STC graduates Nate Van Dyke and Danny Mayo who are the head and assistant freshman coaches respectively. Peska also coaches for the Trojans as special teams coach for varsity and the head JV coach. They have even welcomed a former West Delaware Hawk into the family as Cort Ahrens is entering his sixth year as a lineman coach for the varsity team.

As football practice has officially begun for the season, Doran is going to be a busy man. He is already turning the football program into his own. That includes incorporating things like study sessions for students who may need extra help with school work and 50 hours of volunteer time.

The opening line of the South Tama County Trojan Football mission statement reads: "The Trojan Football Program will develop and prepare students/athletes physically, mentally and emotionally to strive for excellence through the sport of football."

"For me football was a release. It was something I was decent at. And it came natural to me. It was something I had been playing forever. It is so relatable to life. There is a struggle. You have to work hard. You have to put your time in. You have to do what it takes. How hard you work, the better the results. But if you decide to just show up and walk through it you're not going to get the results you want. And that's the same in life. You're going to run into things you don't like. You're going to lose. You're going to fail. But as long as you continue to fight and work hard things are going to get better. I'm a big example for that. A lot of things in my life have been bad but there are so many good (things) that I would have never seen if I hadn't kept fighting and football is a huge part of that."

Responding to the notion of steering the ship for the Trojans over the long term, Doran appears motivated and willing.

"I'm ready," states Doran. "I want to go until they can't go anymore or they tell me I can't because I love it. (Coaching) can be stressful but as soon as the season comes, it's just a release and I'm home. I love it, I love it so much. I'm happy everyday that I get to do it."



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