While Jim Verdieck was best known for his 38 years of coaching tennis at the University of Redlands, his sons Doug Verdieck ’70 and Randy Verdieck ’72 have early memories of their father (whom they and everyone else called “Coach”) associated with a different Bulldog sport.
“My brother and I were water boys for the University’s football team,” says Doug. “We watched film studies in our kitchen, where Coach would set up the old projector.” At age four, Randy remembers telling his mother he was “going to football practice” before running across the street from their childhood home on College Avenue and Grove Street to join “Coach” on the U of R athletic fields.
Neither of Verdieck’s sons initially thought they would attend Redlands, but ultimately both chose the campus where they had grown up. “My decision was a pleasant surprise for my dad, and, in hindsight, I am so glad I made it,” reflects Doug, who majored in economics. Randy, who majored in communicative disorders, had a desire to play tennis and football, and thought “Redlands was the perfect place to do both.”
Both brothers played Redlands tennis and, like many others, were inspired by their father’s coaching. “It was what he was born to do,” says Randy. “He just loved teaching someone how to play, and he poured his heart and soul into the program.” Coach was also known for his desire to win, and his record of 15 national championships, 14 of which were won in his last 18 years, spoke to that drive.
After graduation, Doug was determined that he was not going to follow in his father’s footsteps as a tennis coach because “there was no way I could have his passion.” Nonetheless, Doug became director at the Seattle Tennis Club, a position he held for 33 years, noting “I created my own passion.” He and his father are one of only six father-son pairs to have been inducted into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.
Doug and Randy’s admiration for their late father is shared by hundreds of other student-athletes who played for Coach. “Many people described him as the ‘greatest man they ever knew,’” recalls Randy. “He was not just a tennis coach, but someone who taught them to work hard and be the best they could be, which carried over into whatever field they chose.” Doug adds, “He gave so much of himself to everyone, and that left a lasting impression on those who knew him.”
Randy and Doug are committed to honoring the enduring legacy of their father (who passed away in 2001) through the Tennis Complex Campaign. Alongside 15 other Bulldog tennis alumni on the campaign’s committee, their goal is to raise $3 million to build a new tennis complex, to be named for Coach Verdieck through their work to raise half of the campaign goal in his honor. The new complex will include 12 courts and an enhanced tribute to Verdieck and the winning tradition of Bulldog Tennis. “We are impressed with the efforts and energy being put into this project,” says Doug of his fellow committee members.
Thanks to early leadership contributions (including from Doug and Randy), the campaign has secured over $1 million to date.
“Anyone who played for him should want to give back,” says Randy, who challenges former players to join him in contributing.
“What I was able to do with my life is because of what I was given by Coach, and there are others who feel that way, too,” adds Doug. “This is a way for them to step up and give back.”