published Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Covenant College's Duble to 200 wins

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    Covenant College women's soccer coach Mark Duble got his 200th win on Saturday.
    Photo by Ron Bush.
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One day after one of his former Covenant College teammates was inaugurated as the Lookout Mountain school's sixth president, Mark Duble reached 200 wins as its women's soccer coach.

The Lady Scots' 2-0 homecoming victory over Tennessee Temple gave him a 200-115-27 record in his 19th season as the program's only varsity coach. The team is 9-2-1 after a 21-1 shots count and goals by Mary Buys and Katelyn Newsome from assists by Mary Claire Roberson and Mo Cross.

Even more than Dr. Derek Halvorson, the new president, the 54-year-old Duble is wrapped up in Covenant's history. He literally grew up at the school. His father was its first vice president, and the family lived in Covenant's original building, Carter Hall. Mark's brother Troy is now the vice president of advancement.

After three years in the Army, Mark Duble returned to Covenant as a student and 21-year-old soccer player. That stint didn't take -- "I wasn't really ready to be in college at that time," he said this past week -- but he married a Lady Scots basketball player, Lynn Devereux, and stayed close to the campus. And at age 32 he returned to school and played soccer for two years as a leader on teams that included some of the best players in Scots history.

They were directed by NAIA Hall of Fame coach Brian Crossman, still a member of the Covenant faculty.

"The president -- Dr. Halvorson now, freshman Derek Halvorson then -- and I actually battled for the same position the whole time I played for Brian," Duble recalled. "He was also one of my two travel partners."

Considerably younger brother Troy was another teammate, and their sister and Troy's wife played for Mark when he began the women's varsity a couple of years after his graduation, having assisted Crossman with the men in the meantime. As one of the founders of the Lookout Mountain Soccer Association, Duble already had been a youth coach for years, for his son Allen's teams.

Now Allen helps him, along with longtime aide Gene Ezell and former Lady Scot Dana Streufert, the full-time assistant. She is one of "probably 25 or 30" of Duble's ex-players who coach now, along with the many other success stories.

Sarah Donaldson, Duble's first goalkeeper, teaches at Covenant.

"Doctor Donaldson," he said proudly.

His teams were successful from the start, with conference championships their first three years. The Lady Scots didn't lose a league match until the final one in their fourth season. But that's not what matters most to Duble.

"Our priority here is not to win at any cost," he said. "Not that we ever don't try to win, but more than that we get to help kids grow and mature as Christian kids. That's probably the number one reason I've stayed here; I've had chances to go other places. Christian education is something I have believed in since I was young, and with these girls we get to use soccer and academics and their social life to help them grow into great Christian adults.

"I love that, and I've been blessed to be able to do this."

Tami Smialek, the Covenant athletic director who played basketball a couple of years alongside Duble's wife, said he is ideal for what the school and its sports program is all about.

"I think Mark clearly gets the vision of Covenant College," Smialek said. "He sees his players as more than just athletes and his job as helping develop them to become the women God created them to be."

Said Crossman, who not only gave Duble a chance to play in his 30s but gave him his first coaching opportunity: "Mark understands the college -- it's a unique place -- and he understands his situation and is able to work within it. He has brought in women's soccer players who have been very active on campus and great representatives of the college as they have moved on.

"As for his 200 wins here, that means longevity in this day and age of coaches moving around. That speaks to his loyalty to the school and to his passion for the game. He cares about soccer at a high level, and he cares greatly about making a difference in his players."

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