Former coach to be honored with football field renaming
“Humbled, honored, surprised.”
Those were the first three words that jumped into Doug Feltner’s mind when he learned the field at Interlachen High School’s Thompson-Baker Stadium would be named after him Friday.
Feltner retired as Interlachen High School athletic director in 2009 after a 30-year run. He was the head football coach from 1979 to 1986 and 2000 to 2001. In the mid-1970s, the St. Augustine native thought he was heading to Palatka South High School when he was approached for an assistant coaching position for the Interlachen Rams in 1977, he said.
Feltner was present for Thompson-Baker Stadium’s construction. He was known for his care of the Bermuda grass and adamantly telling students to get off the field.
He said the grass was persnickety and gets rougher with more foot traffic. The field would be used for football games, soccer and graduation ceremonies. The game field should only be used for suitable occasions, he said.
“I have always believed the athletic fields, the weight rooms, the gymnasiums are classrooms. As an educator first, you want to take care of your classroom the best you can,” Feltner said. “For graduations in early June, you want that surface to look as good as it can.”
Feltner recalled playing on perfectly manicured Bermuda turf at a baseball training camp in Ocala. Equipment and facilities go a long way in improving player performance, he said.
“For some reason, that stuck in my brain, and I determined right then and there that if I ever became responsible for something like that I was going to have the best playing surface I could for players to play on because I think it makes them play better,” Feltner said.
Interlachen Athletic Director Ron Whitehurst said he was a player when Feltner assumed the roles of athletic director and head football coach in 1979. Whitehurst chuckled and said he heard, “Get off the grass,” many times from Feltner.
“He always set a high standard and the field was always pristine,” Whitehurst said.
At a Putnam County School District board meeting three weeks ago, board members shared their thoughts on Feltner and the field’s new name. The field renaming was unanimously approved at a board meeting last week.
Board member Bud McInnis said Feltner cared for the field like it was his own. The district built a separate field for band members to keep them off the athletic field, board member David Buckles laughed.
Feltner said he didn’t expect the renaming because working for the school never felt like a job. He said he was lucky because his job was made easier with great coaches and players.
Now about a decade into retirement in St. Augustine, Feltner avidly golfs and stays busy with his grandchildren.
Feltner will be honored before the Rams’ Friday night game against Keystone Heights High School.
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