At vigil, mourners recall Teevens’ impact beyond the field

A large crowd attends a gathering of remembrance on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Hanover, N.H., for Dartmouth football coach Buddy Teevens, who died on Sept. 19 from injuries sustained from a March bicycle crash. The crowd includes the team's players and coaches, who had their season-opening home game earlier in the day.  (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

A large crowd attends a gathering of remembrance on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Hanover, N.H., for Dartmouth football coach Buddy Teevens, who died on Sept. 19 from injuries sustained from a March bicycle crash. The crowd includes the team's players and coaches, who had their season-opening home game earlier in the day. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Kirsten Teevens hugs Dartmouth football player Nic Sani during a gathering of remembrance on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Hanover, N.H., for Teevens' husband and coach Buddy Teevens, who died on Sept. 19 from injuries sustained from a March bicycle crash. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Kirsten Teevens hugs Dartmouth football player Nic Sani during a gathering of remembrance on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Hanover, N.H., for Teevens' husband and coach Buddy Teevens, who died on Sept. 19 from injuries sustained from a March bicycle crash. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

Dartmouth defensive lineman Jaylin Rainey listens during a gathering of remembrance on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Hanover, N.H., for Buddy Teevens, who died on Sept. 19 from injuries sustained from a March bicycle crash. Rainey's hoodie depicts the team's defensive line coaching staff, including Teevens. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Dartmouth defensive lineman Jaylin Rainey listens during a gathering of remembrance on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Hanover, N.H., for Buddy Teevens, who died on Sept. 19 from injuries sustained from a March bicycle crash. Rainey's hoodie depicts the team's defensive line coaching staff, including Teevens. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

By JUSTIN CAMPFIELD

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 09-25-2023 2:09 PM

HANOVER — After six months of uncertainty and four days of mourning, the Upper Valley community paid tribute to the memory of former Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens during a somber candlelight vigil held Saturday night on the green.

A star quarterback for the Big Green in the late 1970s and the winningest head coach in program history, Teevens died Tuesday at the age of 66, months after being struck by a vehicle while riding a bike in St. Augustine, Fla. The Teevens family previously revealed that he suffered a spinal cord injury and had a leg amputated. He was receiving care in Boston at the time of his death.

At the vigil held at dusk two hours after the football team’s victorious home opener blocks away at Memorial Field, a handful of Teevens’ colleagues, players and friends shared with the crowd of roughly 1,000 mourners memories that had remarkably little to do with his accomplishments on the football field. Rather, for every fleeting reference to Ivy League titles or player of the year awards, speakers spoke in multitudes about how Teevens impacted their lives as a mentor, father figure or friend.

“I don’t believe there are many other places in the world where I could count the head football coach as one of my friends, but that was Buddy,” said Katie Dowty, head coach of the Dartmouth Women’s Rugby team. “He really cared about people. He cared about connecting us and uplifting us. And I really think he was the spirit of this place, the best of us, everything that we want to be. He embodied that spirit to me. And when I see the outpouring of messages now, I realize that I really wasn’t alone in that feeling.”

Curt Oberg, a former Dartmouth football teammate of Teevens and the program’s special assistant to the head coach since 2016, praised Teevens as someone who never let his many accomplishments get to his head.

“He is the most humble man I have ever known,” Oberg said. “One would never know he was the Ivy League player of the year. The Ivy League coach of the year many times. Or someone who on a national level had changed the game to make it safer for our players. Or someone who was the first college Division 1 coach to hire women as assistant coaches.

“He never talked about himself. He was always much more interested in you and how your life was going and how he could help you in any way.”

Like many of his Dartmouth football teammates, Texas native Grayson O’Bara came a long way from home to play football for Coach Teevens.

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As he huddled with teammates in Saturday night’s crowd, the sophomore wide receiver shared how Teevens was more than just a coach to him.

“He took the time to get to know every one of us individually, which at some big programs and other D1 places the head coach isn’t going to do that,” said O’Bara. “I always knew I could go down and sit in his office and just have a conversation with him about life and he would always lead me in the right direction.”

Judee Sani, the mother of senior tight end Nic Sani, also said Teevens’ impact on his players’ lives went beyond football.

“He was a person who saw potential in the boys beyond the football field and believed they were capable of doing anything, and he could find that sort of potential in anyone,” said Sani, who recalled Teevens taking the time to take them to lunch in their hometown when he came to recruit Nic.

Sani said she knew Teevens was different from most coaches because his recruiting pitch to her son wasn’t, in her words, “selfish.”

“It wasn’t ‘you have to focus on football,’ it was ‘you need to focus on how you can be a good human being and how you can grow and how I can help you,’ ” Sani recalled. “He was a once in a lifetime human being.”

Also in the vigil’s crowd was Teevens sister-in-law, Krissy Teevens, the wife of Buddy Teevens’ younger brother, Tim. She said her family was appreciative of those who came out to honor Buddy Teevens at the vigil.

“It makes us all feel so good,” Krissy Teevens said. “It’s been a very difficult six months … it’s just been really difficult. So (Saturday’s turnout) and seeing all the football players here is just so touching.

“He was just always such a great, nice person, just like everyone said. You know it as family, but hearing it from strangers has been really awesome.”

Justin Campfield can be reached at jhcampfield@gmail.com.