Courtesy of Ohio Wesleyan University
Dr. Richard D. Gordin '52, who coached at Ohio Wesleyan University for 39 years and remained active in the Ohio Wesleyan and golf communities for another 25 years as a mentor and invaluable resource, died on Thursday. He was 89.
Gordin returned to his alma mater in 1954 as head coach of the soccer, swimming, and golf teams.
He was head coach of the men's soccer team when it returned to varsity status in 1955 and coached its first All-America selection that season. He was head coach of the men's swimming team until 1977, coaching 4 individual All-Americans and an All-America relay team.
Gordin served as the Battling Bishops' men's golf coach from 1955-93, with the 39-season run marking the longest coaching tenure in Ohio Wesleyan history at the time. He guided 22 of his last 25 teams to the NCAA Division III or College Division tournaments, bringing home 6 top-5 finishes in his last 8 years, including runner-up finishes in 1990 and 1993 and thirds in 1989 and 1991. Ohio Wesleyan won a total of 12 league titles in 5 different decades under Gordin. His teams won 7 Ohio Athletic Conference championships -- placing third or better in the OAC tournament 20 times -- and 5 North Coast Athletic Conference crowns. Gordin was named NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in 1987 and 1993. He coached 34 All-America golfers in his last 24 seasons.
Jon Whithaus '91, who played for Gordin and later coached the Battling Bishop men's golf team to 8 NCAC championships and a pair of top-5 NCAA Division III finishes, said "Dr. Gordin changed the course of so many lives over his decades of service dedicated to guiding the development of the many young people who had the honor of being associated with him. He led not by strict rules or control. Instead, he demonstrated his leadership through class, integrity, and diligence. He set a standard of excellence through his own personal conduct, which consistently allowed his genuine desire to help others excel.
"Like myself, OWU golfers for decades have been motivated to incorporate Dr. Gordin's example into our personal conduct within our family roles and within our occupations, which then extends his impact far beyond just those of us who had the privilege of competing on Dr. Gordin's teams."
Jamie Green '93, who was a member of Gordin's final Ohio Wesleyan team and is now the men's golf coach at Duke University, said "I remember when I first looked at the possibility of coaching, I went to a coaching convention and there were like nine coaches who had played for Dr. Gordin at Ohio Wesleyan, and that made me realize the impact he had upon us. From a playing perspective, the thing I learned most is making sure everybody has a chance. There's no label that needs to be on you as a player -- you deserve what you earn each day. I will remember with great fondness his gentle nature. When you were around him, you felt important. At the same time, he was a very passionate competitor."
Green added, "He recruited tremendously -- it was not an accident that guys at Ohio Wesleyan competed at the highest level. What I learned on the coaching side was that he was looking for the right personality and the right person who would fit at Ohio Wesleyan, and when he (found them), they would flourish."
Ohio Wesleyan men's golf coach Ian Miller '99, a 2-time All-American as a Battling Bishop, said "Dr. Gordin epitomized the term gentleman, and his soft-spoken intensity was an incredible trait that touched everyone. His accomplishments as a collegiate coach, administrator, and competitor are too numerous to mention, but they are highly overshadowed by his accomplishments as a husband, a father, a mentor, and friend. Ohio Wesleyan was graced with "Doc's" amazing presence for 65 years. He will be missed dearly by the OWU community, but his legacy will never be forgotten."
Gordin served as director of the physical education program at Ohio Wesleyan from 1960-67, as associate chair of the physical education department from 1967-70, and as co-chair of the physical education department from 1971-77.
In 1966, he earned his doctorate from The Ohio State University, completing his dissertation on the life and career of legendary golfer Bobby Jones and becoming one of the foremost authorities on Jones.
He became Ohio Wesleyan's athletics director in 1977, and during his tenure Ohio Wesleyan opened the Branch Rickey Center (which includes Branch Rickey Arena and Gordon Field House), one of the most outstanding facilities in NCAA Division III at the time. Edwards Gymnasium and Pfeiffer Natatorium, Ohio Wesleyan's other indoor athletics facilities at the time, also underwent extensive remodeling.
Gordin also helped develop the North Coast Athletic Conference, the first intercollegiate athletic conference in the country to treat men's and women's sports equally at its inception, with Ohio Wesleyan becoming a charter member in 1983.
During Gordin's first 7 years as athletics director, Ohio Wesleyan won the OAC's coveted all-sports trophy 3 times, finished second 3 times and third once.
Gordin stepped down as athletics director and chair of the physical education department in 1985 to return to full-time teaching, coaching and writing.
On Gordin's retirement from coaching in 1993, Dr. Jay Martin, who had succeeded Gordin as athletics director in 1985, said "Dick Gordin set the standard for coaching and athletic administration at Ohio Wesleyan. He had the foresight to act toward achieving gender equity before it was ever an issue."
In 1994, Gordin received the Golf Coaches Association of America's Honor Award, becoming only the eighth recipient of that honor.
He was a charter member of the Intercollegiate Golf Coaches Hall of Fame, was president of the Golf Coaches Association of America, serving as that organization's first president from a college division institution, and served as historian and archivist at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, site of the annual Memorial tournament. He was an area consultant to the National Golf Foundation and served on numerous NCAA committees, chairing the NCAA College Division golf rules and tournament committee for 7 years. Gordin was inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.
Among Gordin's published works was "Athletics: A Winning Record," a part of "Noble Achievements: The History of Ohio Wesleyan from 1942 to 1992," published for Ohio Wesleyan's sesquicentennial in 1992. The chapter documented Ohio Wesleyan's ups and downs in competition and its leadership in redefining the relationship between sports and academics on the collegiate level.
A native of South Charleston, Ohio, Gordin graduated from Dublin High School, then served in the U.S. Navy from 1946-48. He enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan in 1948, and during his undergraduate career, he lettered in baseball and played basketball, and was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi education honorary and the Sigma Chi fraternity before graduating in 1952. He earned his master's degree from The Ohio State University in 1954 and returned to his alma mater that fall.
The Ohio Wesleyan athletics department annually bestows the Dr. Richard Gordin Award, which recognizes the highest cumulative grade point average among senior male student-athletes. The Ohio Wesleyan men's golf team annually hosts the Gordin Collegiate Classic, a fall tournament that includes 12 of the best NCAA Division III teams, featuring most - if not all - of the top 10 finishers from the previous spring's NCAA Division III championship tournament.
Gordin is survived by his wife, Paula Egan Gordin '51, and their sons, Richard D. Gordin '73, Robert H. Gordin '75, and Douglas P. Gordin '78.
Memorial information will be announced at a future date.