Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Honoring ‘Coach’

men standing in a group winning an award
“[Coach Jim Verdieck’s] example taught us about how to be better tennis players and, by extension, better and stronger human beings,” says Seabury Stanton ’74 (second right), here with (left to right) Randy Verdieck, Rich Tripp, Mitch Finklestein, John Brush, Coach, Rob Risinger at the NAIA National Championship.

When looking at colleges, Seabury Stanton ’74 was seeking a reprieve from icy New England winters. A regional high school tennis champion, Stanton heard about Coach Jim Verdieck’s team at the University of Redlands and made an inquiry. To his surprise, Stanton started receiving handwritten letters from the man whom everyone, even his two sons Doug ’70 and Randy ’72, called “Coach.”

“Coach promised to dedicate his resources to help me become the best player I could,” Stanton recalls. “I had never received a letter like that before.”

Thus began a relationship that changed Stanton’s life. Stanton admits he was not always the easiest student-athlete, but Verdieck was patient and persistent, using a formula for building physical and mental toughness that included conditioning, craft, and competition. By the end of his senior year, Stanton had been named a three-time All-American and had played on three national championship teams. Along the way, Stanton became a self-described “Verdieck disciple.”

“His example taught us about how to be better tennis players and, by extension, better and stronger human beings,” says Stanton.

After graduating with an English degree, Stanton briefly assisted Verdieck on the Redlands team before launching a 45-year career teaching tennis. Verdieck taught tennis camps with Stanton several times in Palm Springs, but his influence on Stanton’s coaching continued well beyond. “Over the years, I would be teaching, and a Verdieck-ism would come out,” Stanton says. “I wanted to do anything I could to carry his work forward.”

At a tennis reunion in fall 2018, Stanton reminisced about Verdieck with 80 fellow alumni. This experience inspired Stanton to begin writing a book about Coach, who died in 2001: “I wanted to bring him back to life to those who knew him, inspire those who didn’t, and draw attention to this remarkable man. He deserves to be remembered.”

As a further tribute to Verdieck, Stanton made a leadership gift to the Campaign for Bulldog Tennis, a fundraising project to remodel the current facility. “My contribution was made in Coach’s memory and to ensure his legacy will endure with a tennis complex that will serve generations of student-athletes going forward,” says Stanton. “Whatever success I have had can be attributed to him, and I would not have achieved anything without his coaching.”

Read an excerpt of Stanton’s book. For more information on how you can support the Campaign for Bulldog tennis like Stanton has, please contact Ericka Smith, senior philanthropic advisor, at 909-748-8357 or ericka_smith@redlands.edu.

Or learn more about Bulldog Athletics.