Legendary Towson University educator, coach and athletic director Donald “Doc” Minnegan would have celebrated his 113th birthday on August 26, 2015.
His love of sports, and five decades of teaching and coaching at Towson University, touched thousands of students as Towson evolved from a two-year teachers college into Maryland’s second-largest public university. He began teaching part time in 1927 and retired in 1977 as a full professor and athletic director emeritus.
After Minnegan earned his doctorate in 1947 from George Washington University, he was called “Doc” by athletes, students, alumni and colleagues. Although he coached many different teams during his time with Towson Athletics, Doc is mainly remembered for his soccer teams.
“Doc Minnegan was a genius before his time in terms of equipment and ideas,” said Dave Yingling, who played soccer and ran track in the early 1960s. “He had us wearing soccer shoes from East Germany when things weren’t all that good between East and West Germany.”
During Minnegan’s 39 years of coaching soccer, his teams compiled a 231-132-34 record, winning four Maryland Intercollegiate Soccer League titles and one in the Mason-Dixon Conference, in 1964, the year before he left active coaching. Between 1930 and 1936, his teams won 66 of 77 games, although he considered his 1954-56 team — a stable group of players who lost once in 27 games and included three All-Americans — as the best.
In January 1993, the National Soccer Coaches Association cited Minnegan’s life’s work in a sport he never played competitively for a third time by awarding him its highest honor: Hall of Fame membership. He also was in the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame. In 1964, he was alternate manager of the U.S. national team for the Tokyo Olympics, another acknowledgment of his contributions to the sport.
Minnegan pioneered Baltimore County’s extensive, school-based recreation system that was emulated nationwide. He credited William Burdick, the man who hired him to be a playground worker, with laying the foundation. But as a volunteer and consultant, Minnegan built and refined the system.
His reputation was such that twice in the late 1940s, the United States sent him abroad: to Europe, where he taught soccer to American troops, and to Korea, where he set up physical education programs. During World War II, he had helped direct youth athletic programs for Maryland.
His beliefs about the positive influences of athletics spread through numerous youth soccer clinics, long before summer camps became a standard for honing sports skills, as well as through instructing hundreds of prospective physical education teachers at Towson.
Minnegan died in August 2002, just two weeks shy of his 100th birthday.